A Cabinet secretary during the administration of then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has been indicted on bribery charges for allegedly accepting payments from a company after ensuring they received contracts worth tens of millions of dollars.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland announced Wednesday that Isabel FitzGerald, who served as O’Malley’s secretary of information technology, was indicted on four counts related to bribery and making false statements to federal investigators.
The allegations involve FitzGerald’s stint as a high-ranking official in the state Department of Human Resources, which oversees social-service programs and has since been renamed the Department of Human Services.
Prosecutors say FitzGerald in 2011 set up an arrangement with the Consultants Consortium (TCC), a small Indiana information technology company, using her influence to make sure the company received subcontracts on a state project in exchange for a third of the profits.
According to the indictment, FitzGerald threatened to use her government position to cancel a contract and impose other financial penalties on an unidentified state contractor if it did not execute more than $32 million in subcontracts with TCC.
Prosecutors allege she had a “close personal relationship” with Kenneth Coffland, an employee of the unidentified state contractor.
The indictment lays out details of a complex arrangement in which FitzGerald and Coffland allegedly received a cut of TCC’s profits. Neither FitzGerald nor Coffland could be reached Wednesday.
FitzGerald formed a company that was paid by TCC under the guise of supervising people involving in the contract, according to emails described in the indictment. Her company did no such work, and the payments were really a way to funnel taxpayer dollars her way, authorities say.
In a September 2012 email, FitzGerald emailed Coffland about the arrangement: “Thinking I should ask them to pay you. But I don’t want to look or be skeevy.”
FitzGerald is accused of making false statements to FBI agents who interviewed her on Nov. 14, 2014, including that she did not speak about TCC to anyone at the company where Coffland worked. The indictment says FitzGerald hid the alleged illicit payments from higher-ranking Department of Human Resources officials.
TCC’s chief executive and chief financial officer were also charged in the case. In a statement provided by a public relations firm, the company said it was fully cooperating with federal investigators, adding that officials “believe the two officers in question acted lawfully and ethically at all times.”
FitzGerald left the state agency in August 2013 to become the state’s secretary of information technology, a Cabinet position. She led the rebuilding of the state’s glitch-plagued online health insurance marketplace in 2014 and left state government when O’Malley’s term ended in January 2015.
No warrant has been issued for her arrest. She and other defendants are due in court on Oct. 6. FitzGerald could not be reached through a number listed for her Annapolis home, and her attorney could not be found.
A spokesman for O’Malley said he had no immediate comment on the case.
Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), who was lieutenant governor while FitzGerald worked for the state, said in a statement that the allegations, if true, represent “a gross betrayal of the public trust.”
“This behavior should not be tolerated,” Brown said, “and is an affront to the principles that honest, hard-working civil servants display across our country every day.”
Maryland has been roiled by multiple bribery scandals this year.
A federal probe into liquor licensing and regulations in Prince George’s County resulted in charges against two Democratic former state delegates, two local regulators and several others.
And state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks (D-Baltimore) faces federal corruption charges after authorities accused him of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes — nearly three decades after he was convicted and lost his seat in the General Assembly for stealing money from his reelection fund.
Jenna Portnoy contributed to this report.