Trustee likely to plead guilty

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A former Maryland pension trustee who authorities say accepted money, jewelry and a vacation from Nathan A. Chapman Jr. while he was an investment manager for the state retirement system is expected to plead guilty today in a case where she is accused of lying to a federal grand jury about the gifts of cash.

Debra B. Humphries, 45, of Bowie was scheduled to stand trial next month on a single-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Instead, she is scheduled to appear today before U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. for a rearraignment, signaling an expected guilty plea.

Humphries' attorney, Christopher B. Mead of Washington, did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.

Vickie E. LeDuc, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, said she could not comment on the case.

It was unclear yesterday whether Humphries would be expected as part of any plea agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors, a common requirement. Already she has been pushed from the relative obscurity of the pension board to the spotlight of a high-profile corruption case.

Court records portray Humphries as Chapman's mistress during part of the time that she, along with other trustees, was responsible for overseeing his money management role with the pension fund.

Chapman, 45, is charged in a separate case with fraudulently using the pension funds to boost the price of stock in his business, an alleged scheme that authorities say cost the $25 billion pension system nearly $5 million. Prosecutors also have alleged that Chapman stole about $437,350 from his companies and spent much of the money on gifts and financial support for various women.

Chapman has pleaded not guilty. He is scheduled to stand trial next summer.

Authorities have not said what, if any, knowledge Humphries had about Chapman's business dealings.

Humphries was charged in June with one count of lying to the federal grand jury that was investigating Chapman. According to the indictment, Humphries told the grand jury that she received less than $2,000 from Chapman when she accepted more than $46,000, including almost monthly cash payments of $1,100 to $3,311, from 1998 through 1999.

The indictment suggests that Humphries acknowledged to FBI agents and to the grand jury receiving other gifts -- jewelry, clothes and a trip to Hawaii. But she understated the amount of cash she received, saying, "It would be just, you know, the $50 here and $75 there that maybe totaled a few hundred dollars."

"You know, I could mention that I saw something I liked and, you know, he would sort of give me money for it," she allegedly told the panel.

At another point during her grand jury testimony, Humphries said she did not receive any gifts in 1999.

Humphries resigned from the pension board in a letter June 16, shortly before the indictment against her was made public. She had served on the board since 1997, when then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed her at the urging of his political ally, Chapman.

Unknown to other trustees, Humphries and Chapman had an intimate relationship that lasted from 1996 until 1999, federal authorities allege. When Chapman was fired as a pension fund manager in January last year, Humphries was one of four board members who voted to retain him.

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