Maryland state Sen. Tommie Broadwater Jr., testifying for five hours today in his own defense, steadfastly denied any involvement in a food stamp fraud scheme. He acknowledged a meeting with a codefendant during which he said the man tried to sell him $25,000 in purportedly stolen food stamps, but Broadwater said he spurned the offer.
The feisty, 41-year old Prince George's County Democrat told a packed federal courtroom here that he became alarmed at the offer by longtime acquaintance William Dudley, 49, of Landover, and ordered him to leave Broadwater's legislative office.
"I can't do no s--- like that," Broadwater said he told Dudley. " . . . I don't want to talk about no G-- d----- food stamps."
Repeatedly denying a part in any such scheme, Broadwater said Dudley came to his legislative office in Prince George's County on March 6 with a bag filled with food stamps and "wanted me to purchase them."
After looking briefly at the stamps, Broadwater said he ordered Dudley to leave. Moments later, he said, county police and U.S. Secret Service agents burst into the office and arrested him. Dudley was also arrested leaving the office.
Broadwater's testimony came in the 11th day of the trial in which he, his daughter Jacqueline, Dudley and two other Washington-area men are charged with obtaining $70,000 in purportedly stolen food stamps from an undercover Secret Service agent posing as a food stamp thief. Broadwater is further charged with laundering the bulk of the stamps through a supermarket he owns in Fairmount Heights.
Broadwater proclaimed his innocence throughout the long day, denying prosecutors' allegations that he bought the stamps last winter in a desperate effort to shore up his financially collapsing supermarket.
Two leaders of the Maryland Senate, President Melvin A. Steinberg (D-Baltimore County) and Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount (D-Baltimore City), testified as character witnesses on Broadwater's behalf.
"In every dealing I've had with Sen. Broadwater," said Steinberg, "he's been a very truthful man, even when it hurts."
Secret Service agents and other government witnesses have attempted to trace an intricate trail of food stamps transactions, check deposits and supermarket financial records that they say led them from a defunct funeral home in Northwest Washington to Broadwater's Chapel Oaks Farmers Market in Fairmount Heights.
Undercover agent Norman James testified he learned that the Malvan-Schey Funeral Home, 424 R St. NW, was being used as a front to sell stolen food stamps. On four occasions between Jan. 20 and March 6 this year, he said, he arranged to sell $70,000 in marked food stamps at 40 percent of their face value to Dudley, a cab driver, through two funeral home workers, Raymond Quigley Sr., 68, of Fairfax, and his son, Raymond Jr., 49, of Clinton.
Other agents testified they trailed Dudley as he drove his cab into Prince George's County after picking up the food stamps and went variously to Broadwater's home, market and legislative office.
Though admitting they never saw Dudley hand the stamps directly to Broadwater, they said the bulk of the stamps eventually were processed through Broadwater's market and redeemed at their full value from the government.
The last of the four alleged transactions occurred on March 6 when Dudley drove to Broadwater's legislative office. According to government witnesses, Dudley was seen by undercover agents carrying a black Nike athletic bag filled with $25,000 in stamps into the office. Dudley apparently discovered an electronic beeper agents had secreted in the bundles of stamps to aid them in following him, according to government witnesses.
Minutes after entering Broadwater's office, Dudley rushed out and was arrested by waiting agents, with the stamps still in his possession. Other agents went inside and arrested Broadwater. They said traces of a fluorescent chemical sprayed on the food stamps showed up on Broadwater's jacket.
Dudley is not expected to testify in the trial, but his attorney, Maryland Public Defender Fred Warren Bennett, has contended Dudley was illegally entrapped by Secret Service agents. They "initiated this crime," he told the jury last week.
Jacqueline Broadwater, 21, is accused of fabricating financial records at her father's market to conceal the illicit origin of the stamps. She has denied the charges, contending she was carrying out normal bookkeeping duties with no criminal intent.
Raymond Quigley Jr., who, like Dudley, is not expected to testify, also claimed he was entrapped. Raymond Quigley Sr. has contended through his attorney, Gene Johnson, that he was not involved in any of the four transactions with undercover agent James.