Baltimore is searching again for a new manager to run the financially troubled Harrison's Pier 5 hotel, after ending negotiations with a Fells Point merchant who failed to disclose his 1983 conviction in a murder-for-hire plot.
City development officials plan to reopen bidding on a two-year contract to operate the 71-room Inner Harbor hotel. Officials also were "reviewing a strategy to manage Harrison's on the interim basis," while a new selection process is put into place, Michael Seipp, executive vice president of the quasi-public Baltimore Development Corp., said yesterday in a prepared statement.
For the past six months, since the city took over the hotel, it has been run by Pier 5 Inc., whose contract expires this month. The TC group, led by Richard and Sondra Harrison McGee, was among five bidders who lost in negotiations earlier this week to a partnership of Terry T. Brown, a shopkeeper, investor and recent president of the Fells Point Business Association.
City officials broke off talks with Mr. Brown late Wednesday after learning of his conviction from The Sun, which uncovered his criminal record while examining his background.
Mr. Brown was convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and two handgun charges by a Prince George's County Circuit Court jury in May 1983 for shooting the husband of a Greenbelt woman.
Leslie Boyd Andrews met Mr. Brown at a Washington nightclub he was managing and hired him to kill her husband, Philip G. Andrews, for $2,000, according to court records. Prosecutors said Mr. Brown shot Mr. Andrews in the shoulder Jan. 20, 1982, and then fired at him again eight days later.
Evidence against him included Mrs. Andrews' confession, a taped phone conversation she had with Mr. Brown while cooperating with police, a .357-caliber Magnum pistol found on him, and a piece of paper with the victim's name and the figure $1,000, court records say.
He served five years of a 32-year prison term and was released and placed on probation in May 1988. His probationary period ended in February 1992. Mr. Brown said Wednesday that he did not tell development officials or Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke of his conviction because he didn't consider it relevant to the business deal. He consistently has maintained that he is innocent.
"Anytime I would be confronted, I wouldn't lie about it. How can you keep something like that a secret? . . ." he said. "It's one of those things that happened in my life that I'm trying to put behind me."
However, Mayor Schmoke said yesterday that Mr. Brown failed to disclose his conviction when questioned about his background. The mayor said BDC officials asked Mr. Brown three times Wednesday about his past, after The Sun requested from them details of his resume.
"The issue is not the past conviction of Mr. Brown," Mr. Schmoke said. "If someone has been convicted and has paid his debt to society, he ought to have a chance to start over.
"The bottom line was his failure to disclose when asked specifically about his past. If you can't trust someone on a specific question like that, you can't trust him with a multimillion-dollar [business]."
At the same time, Mayor Schmoke and Mr. Seipp defended the selection of Mr. Brown's proposed management team, Pegasus I Inc. Mr. Schmoke said the Brown partnership presented an "outstanding plan" that would have been "a great financial deal."
The Brown partnership offered to give the city 75 percent of the management profits, one of the best financial deals of the six bidders, Mr. Seipp said. Mr. Brown's group was among three that presented plans to eventually buy the hotel. His proposed partner, Ken Callihan, manages Henderson's Wharf Inn and has extensive experience in the hotel industry. Mr. Callihan could not be reached yesterday for comment.
The city took over Harrison's in December after paying off $5.25 million in loans it had guaranteed. The takeover came on top of a loss of $5 million in federal loans funneled through the city and $1.2 million in unpaid property taxes.
Yesterday, the Fells Point Business Association set up a committee to review its business records during Mr. Brown's 1 1/2 -year tenure as president. The association ended the last six-month period with $16,424 in losses.
Mr. Brown, who resigned this month, said the losses were caused by increased costs and bad weather during fund-raising events, not mismanagement.