Baltimore bail bondsman Milton Tillman Jr. and his son, Milton "Moe" Tillman III were brought handcuffed into U.S. District Judge Susan K. Guavey's courtroom 7C at 4:25 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day. Tillman Jr.'s ex-wife, Sandra, and sister, Patricia K. Brown, were among those looking on.
At 5:08 the pair walked out free, Milton promising to reside with his sister on Pinewood Avenue and report to pretrial services; Moe continuing to run 4 Aces Bail Bonds unsupervised while their case winds through the court. Judge Guavey admonished him not to allow his father to help run that business. Doing just that is one of the crimes with which both are charged.
The Tillmans' indictment, unsealed 18 months after federal agents raided Tillman's offices and carted away boxes of documents, contained no allegations of drug dealing violence, no extortion or bribery, and hardly a mention of a victim, other than the U.S. Treasury and, perhaps, Ports America, the huge company that runs the city docks.
The allegations mainly boil down to tax evasion.
Both men said they had not even read the 31-page indictment unsealed earlier today, though Attorney Steven Allen, Moe's lawyer but representing both men because Milton Jr.'s regular attorney, Billy Murphy, was in Annapolis, said he had explained the charges.
Moe, dressed in a dark gray collarless shirt and jeans, acknowledged that he understood what he was charged with.
Flipping through the indictment, Guavey explained to Moe Tillman that he "filed various reports that are incorrect." At first she seemed to confuse Moe's charges with those his father faced. "I think this may be backwards," she said, before allowing Allen to guide her in her explanations to the defendants.
Counts seven through 11, she said, "say you've made false statements in various forms and schedules." Moe Tillman also allegedly "permitted a prohibited person to participate in the business of insurance."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Clarke said he had no objection to the pretrial services' recommendation that Moe Tillman be released unsupervised. He gave up his passport and agreed not to leave the country.
The elder Tillman wore a windbreaker. Standing with his arms crossed loosely behind him, he answered "Yes, ma'am" in a strong and clear voice when Gauvey asked if he understood the court process.
Milton Tillman Jr. had not read the indictment nor had Allen had time to go over it with him, but Allen told the judge, "he's known about it for some time."
Guavey summarized: "You and your son are alleged to have evaded taxes, essentially."
Before agreeing to supervised home release, Clarke asked for clarification on Tillman Jr.'s residence, pointing out several discrepancies in the records he had, and in Tillman's own explanation about where he lives. Regarding the house at 2410 Pinewood Ave. in Baltimore, Clarke told the court, "we know from our investigation . . . that Mr. Tillman will use that as a mailing address. Pretrial was not able to get a hold of Patricia Black [the resident of the house]."
Tillman, Clarke said, "says he's 54 years old and says he's lived at that address, in the Northeast section of the city in the Westfield neighborhood, for 40 years, which would mean he had lived there since he was 14 years old. But he also says he lived with his parents [in a different house] until he was 20." Tillman's driver's license lists yet another address, Clarke continued. "The court needs to nail down where Mr. Tillman lives."
The controversy was over in minutes, when a booking marshal handed over Tillman's driver's license, which lists the Pinewood address. Patricia Black stood up and explained that she had married and is now Patricia Brown. "He's there," she told the judge. "Not every night, but he does have a bed there. Mail comes in."
A woman from Pretrial Services interviewed Brown, returning a few minutes later to tell the judge that Brown lives there with her husband, daughter, and a small dog, none of whom have any criminal record.
Allen explained that Brown helps Tillman run his real estate business, New Trend Development. Tillman also sometimes sleeps at his ex-wife's home in Towson; his daughter also lives there. Both were in court; both declined to speak with City Paper.
Judge Guavey allowed that Tillman can sometimes stay overnight at his ex-wife's home if he tells his agent at Pretrial Services ahead of time.
Before releasing the Tillmans, Guavey looked through Milton Jr.'s pretrial report, which listed his previous encounters with law enforcement. "I have a question about this '06 'intimidation or influence a jury,'" she said.
"I tried that case," Allen said, explaining that the state case had charged the Tillmans with double-posting property on bail bonds. "The jury returned, after a two week trial, in about 25 minutes returned 'not guilty' on all counts," Allen said. But the wording on the charge left room for confusion. "The way the Maryland statute is structured, it's very broad," Allen said.
Clarke agreed. "The computer," he said, "mischaracterized it."