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Once-mighty Nate Chapman is declared a 'pauper'


IT WASN'T long ago that Nate Chapman owned a house worth more than $1 million, worked out of swanky offices on the 28th floor of the World Trade Center and spent more than $200,000 on girlfriends, lavishing them with clothing, jewelry, Hawaiian vacations and buying one a motorcycle.

That was before the investment banker was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in federal prison in November for defrauding the state pension system.

Eight months later, he not only can't afford to make the $5 million in restitution he owes, but his lawyers have persuaded a judge to declare Chapman a "pauper" for the purposes of appealing his conviction.

The pauper designation is typically given to poor defendants or young people going through divorce. It enables them to move ahead without having to pay certain filing fees and costs.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. waived bail so that Chapman could proceed with his appeal a free man. He also placed Chapman's financial affidavit under seal so that none of the details can be viewed by the public. Chapman's attorney, William "Billy" Martin, wouldn't comment on his client's financial condition.

Federal prosecutors said in court documents that Chapman has almost $50,000 in assets that can be liquidated. The assets include $25,000 in artwork, $20,000 in stocks, bonds and mutual funds and $2,000 in a checking account. It is unclear whether those assets have been liquidated.

Chapman had to relinquish his house at 6017 Misty Arch Run in Columbia, and accounts he had at Bank of America have been frozen, the court documents say.

As of January, Chapman didn't have a job, and he was not only taking care of his elderly mother, but also supporting a sick wife and three daughters, court documents say. He and his wife are separated, the court documents say.

To compound his problems, Chapman is expected to stand trial June 20 before Quarles on two charges that were set aside from the original trial. If he is found guilty, it could mean more prison time, said Vickie LeDuc, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Despite his problems, Chapman, who was elected chairman of the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents in 1999 and backed by former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, has his supporters. In October, about a week before Chapman was sentenced, Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Calvin Burnett, Maryland's secretary of higher education, asked Quarles for leniency.

"Nate has unusual capacity for caring about others, particularly people less fortunate than he has been," Hrabowski wrote.

"Mr. Chapman's accomplishments are numerous," Burnett wrote in his letter. "He is a great worker needed by society. He is good man admired by many."

Baltimore brokerage Brown Advisory Securities LLC plans to literally knock down a wall at its Fells Point headquarters building.

"We are completely chock full here," said Thomas Schweizer Jr., president of Brown Advisory, a subsidiary of Brown Investment Advisory & Trust Co.

The brokerage has gone from zero to 26 brokers in two years and has $3.5 billion in assets under management. Schweizer wants to hire eight to 10 more.

The firm had taken additional space in anticipation of growth. Soon, the sledgehammers will start banging away. "The timing is right to finish out the space," Schweizer said. "We are going to blow the wall down."

Bill Atkinson's column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 410-332-6961 or by e-mail at bill.atkinson@balt sun.com.

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