Brian H. Davis, a former trucking executive whose hefty campaign contributions made him a high roller in Maryland politics, was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison for violating state election laws.
In a brief hearing in Baltimore County District Court, Davis, 42, admitted to making thousands of dollars in campaign contributions under false names and to twice exceeding the state's $10,000 limit on contributions during a four-year election cycle.
Under the terms of a prearranged plea agreement, Davis received three consecutive one-year prison sentences, with all but one year suspended. Davis will be allowed to serve that year concurrently with a federal prison term for bank fraud and other charges.
Davis has been serving a five-year, three-month term for bank fraud and tax evasion. Yesterday, a federal judge ordered another 21 months to be tacked on to the sentence for contempt of court, leaving him with sentences totaling seven years. He is serving his term at a federal prison in Michigan.
Assistant State Prosecutor A. Thomas Krehely Jr., who prosecuted the election law case
against Davis, said he could recall no similar case that led to jail time, and he said adding more prison time to the federal sentence would serve no purpose.
'Enough is enough'
"Enough is enough, when it comes to seven years," Krehely said. "Our interest in this case was primarily to make a record of the contributions."
Last year, after being charged with election law violations, Davis described himself as "the fall guy" and threatened to issue a courtroom statement showing that politicians knew of his contributions. In court yesterday he was silent except to politely answer a judge's questions. In a brief interview after the Baltimore County hearing, he said he was sorry for what he'd done.
"I just wish to apologize to both the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judiciary and other elected officials," he said. "Most of all, I want to apologize to the citizens for usurping their votes with ill-gotten money."
Krehely, an attorney for the state's special prosecutor's office, said Davis has cooperated with authorities, as required under the plea agreement.
"I think we learned a great deal from talking to Brian Davis about the way political contributions are solicited and the way people like Brian Davis are sometimes sucked into the matter, as far as making contributions," Krehely said.
He added that the Davis case showed that some political campaign committees should have done a better job of identifying illegal donations.
He declined to name those committees. The recipients of donations from Davis, either directly or indirectly, included Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and former state attorney general candidate Richard D. Bennett, who ran for lieutenant governor this year. Each has denied knowing that Davis' contributions were illegal.
Others receiving money from Davis, according to a document presented by prosecutors, included former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, former Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden and current and former state lawmakers -- including former state Sen. F. Vernon Boozer, a lawyer who represented Davis at yesterday's hearing.
State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli launched an investigation after a series of articles by The Sun in 1996 detailed more than $250,000 in state and federal campaign contributions made by Davis over five years. The Sun report showed that Davis gave much of that money using names of relatives without their permission. Other contributions were made in the names of his companies, Oceanic Ltd. and Williams-Nuhn Ranches, and company employees.
Davis pleaded guilty yesterday to exceeding campaign contribution limits by contributing more than $130,000 during the four-year cycle ending in 1994 and by contributing more than $42,000 during the cycle ending this year. He admitted making $68,500 in contributions under false names.
In federal court yesterday, Davis received the additional sentence stemming from his illegal use of credit cards and bank checks while he waited to go to prison for the bank fraud convictions in 1997.
The sentence by U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis followed lengthy testimony by psychiatrists who debated whether Davis understood the wrongfulness of his conduct when he used other people's names -- including those of a former girlfriend and a Timonium restaurateur -- to obtain credit cards. Garbis concluded that while Davis has a "narcissistic personality disorder" that inflates his sense of his own importance, he knew what he was doing.
Said Garbis: "He is a very engaging person who has proven to be able to do wonderful things, and hopefully there will be a time when he can turn his mind to doing those things in a productive way."
Davis apologized in a brief statement to the judge, saying: "With hard work and God's good graces, I'll overcome this."
Pub Date: 12/19/98