Baltimore official who oversaw Circulator pleads guilty to accepting bribes

A former city transportation official who ran the Charm City Circulator and water taxi programs pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he took $90,000 in bribes.

Barry Stephen Robinson, 65, of Accokeek, pleaded guilty to two counts of bribery, and one count of money laundering as part of a scheme he engaged in earlier this year while he was Chief of the Division of Transit and Marine Services of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, according to prosecutors.


Robinson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for money laundering and 10 years in prison on each of two bribery counts.

Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for March 27.

Robinson resigned from city government in October, a week before federal officials accused him of taking a $20,000 cash bribe in exchange for erasing a $60,000 debt owed to the city for advertising on Circulator buses, and a $70,000 bribe in exchange for selling off $250,000 worth of city bus stop shelters. He planned to use some of the money to fund his retirement, according to the indictment.

The news prompted the city transportation department to undertake a "thorough review of all internal monetary controls and procedures."

"The amount of money Barry Robinson admitted to accepting demonstrates his willingness to line his own pockets in exchange for his influence, and his actions are why many people distrust the government," Steve Vogt, Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore Division of the FBI, said in a statement. "Any public servant who puts a price on his or her position doesn't have the greater good in mind and they should be held accountable."

James Wyda, federal public defender for the district of Maryland, said Robinson was remorseful about the crime.

"Barry Robinson is a veteran of the United States Navy and has been a distinguished public servant for decades," Wyda said. "Today he accepted responsibility for a lapse in judgment made while in poor health and under very difficult financial circumstances. This is a very difficult day for Mr. Robinson and his family but he's trying to make amends in every way he can for the crime he committed."

The Circulator is operating at a $11.6 million deficit, according to a city analysis released last month. The free bus service's deficit is projected to expand to $73.2 million over the next 10 years.