A former head of the city's scandal-ridden Hired Truck Program was sentenced Tuesday to 2 years in prison as prosecutors disclosed he pocketed more than $56,000 in bribes from at least 30 trucking companies that wanted into the program.
In a court filing that prosecutors first sought to have sealed, the government revealed that prosecutors questioned Angelo Torres but that he refused to discuss two sets of trucking companies out of apparent concern for his safety.
Martin and co-counsel Theodore Poulos also contended that Torres was in effect a figurehead, since city department heads decided which trucking companies got the Hired Truck work.
"He didn't have the real power here," Martin said of Torres.
In the court filing, prosecutors disclosed questioning Torres as recently as July 21 and said he had provided additional information about his corrupt relationship with trucking companies.
However, the government contended he hadn't been fully forthcoming, refusing to discuss the identity of all the trucking companies with which he engaged in wrongdoing or admit the full extent of his bribery.
Prosecutors also argued that Torres had misled court officials by suggesting he was named Hired Truck boss solely because of efforts by the city's budget director.
In addition to pocketing more than $56,000 in bribes, Torres, an affiliate of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, solicited at least $10,000 in campaign contributions, the government said. But prosecutors suspected he received substantially more money because undercover recordings captured a middleman suggesting he was owed a lot of money for acting as a go-between for a contractor who paid off Torres.
Torres, who was the gatekeeper deciding which trucking companies were admitted to Hired Truck, took bribes to let Sarch Hauling Ltd., Elliott Inc. and other contractors into the program when it was officially closed to newcomers, the government said.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Barry Miller had sought up to 6 1/2 years in prison for Torres, saying he hadn't accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing despite his guilty plea in March to extortion conspiracy, mail fraud and tax fraud.
The government also argued that Torres was legally accountable for an additional $200,000 in bribes pocketed by two former city employees, John "Quarters" Boyle and Nick LoCoco, both key players in doling out Hired Truck work. Boyle is scheduled to be sentenced next week. LoCoco died in December following a horse-riding accident.
But U.S. District Judge James Holderman ruled against the government on those issues and other legal points and imposed the 2-year sentence. The judge also imposed fines and costs of a combined $8,200 on Torres, who is unemployed and has filed for bankruptcy protection.
At the request of Torres' lawyers, Holderman also recommended that he serve his time in a federal prison that offers alcohol treatment.
Speaking without notes, Torres, 37, of Chicago apologized for his misconduct, saying he had disgraced his family and dishonored the Latino community.
"From the day I walked into my attorney's office, I told him I did not want to fight this whatsoever because I was guilty," Torres said.
Torres said his most difficult moment in the ordeal came when he had to tell his 9-year-old son "that I had done something wrong when my child looked up to me and thought I was Zeus."
Torres said he accomplished some good in the post as well, recalling how at the risk of his job he urged minority trucking companies to protest their share of the Hired Truck Program.
"I worked very hard in my life to get where I got, and I unfortunately abused my authority, and for that reason I am apologetic," Torres said. "I took advantage of it .... I was a statistic, a father at a young age from a Latino community, but I made it and I didn't think of that as the time. And when that money came to me, I accepted it."
Torres was the first person charged when the federal probe went public in January 2004. So far, 22 people have pleaded guilty in the ongoing investigation; charges are pending against eight others.
CITY HALL HIRING PROBE
Former Hired Truck boss gets 2-year term for bribes
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.