Former Maryland state senator Thomas L. Bromwell pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other offenses yesterday as newly released court documents revealed that the FBI seized more than three dozen items, including his wife's diary, during a search of the Bromwell residence last week.
The proceeding in federal court in Baltimore marked the first time that Bromwell, a Democrat who once operated at the pinnacle of government power in Annapolis, appeared publicly as a defendant. His wife, Mary Pat, who is charged in the case as well, also pleaded not guilty.
"On all counts, not guilty," the former lawmaker said after U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grimm outlined the charges against him. Bromwell, 56, is accused of using his influence to benefit the construction company Poole and Kent and its former president and chief executive, W. David Stoffregen, in exchange for concealed payments of more than $190,000, free or discounted contracting services at his home and other favors.
The Bromwells declined to comment as they left the courthouse. Robert B. Schulman, an attorney for the former lawmaker, said the family had received calls from many friends and other supporters, all wishing them "nothing but the best."
According to the documents made public yesterday, the FBI searched the Bromwell residence on Ravenridge Road in Baltimore on Thursday, seizing as evidence the diary, computer records and other material.
The possible significance of the items they said they seized is clear in some cases -- invoices for work at the Bromwell home, faxes Poole and Kent sent to Bromwell involving a state construction project -- and less so in others. Agents, for example, took travel records, framed Baltimore Ravens memorabilia and four "identical 8x10 photographs" depicting Thomas Bromwell, Stoffregen and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D), who is not accused of wrongdoing.
In an indictment returned nearly two weeks ago, Bromwell was accused of using his influence inside and outside government to help Poole and Kent win construction contracts, to resolve contractual disputes in the company's favor and to expedite payments so that Stoffregen could collect hefty bonuses.
Bromwell's ability to deliver favors was considered so valuable, the indictment says, that Stoffregen persuaded him to abandon his announced plans to retire from the Senate in 2000. Bromwell remained in the legislature at Stoffregen's request and, in exchange, received payments disguised as a salary paid to his wife for a no-show job, it says.
Stoffregen is scheduled to appear in court for the first time tomorrow. His attorney, Barry Levine, has declined to comment. Poole and Kent has said it forced Stoffregen out in March and is cooperating with authorities.
A day after the Bromwells' home was searched, their attorneys filed court papers alleging that some of the seized material, including documents and computer records, is protected by attorney-client privilege. They requested that the court prevent investigators and prosecutors from reviewing the material.
The attorneys said computer files and other records should be reviewed by a judge or by a third party appointed by the court. Prosecutors have not responded to that request.