Plea deal robbed us of quite a diversion

The Baltimore Sun

So how long until the Valentines start arriving in the mailbox of U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz?

In November, Motz is scheduled to sentence former state Sen. Thomas Bromwell, who this week pleaded guilty to taking bribes to help a construction company beat a lower bidder for a multimillion-dollar state contract.

The Bromwell plea deal, sadly, deprives us of what surely would have been a delightfully scandalous trial, with prosecutors playing FBI tapes of the salty-tongued powerbroker bragging about his influence and all sorts of high-profile political and business figures squirming on the witness stand.

So I turn my eyes hopefully to Motz's mailbox. Maybe it will fill up with the kind of effusive letters that a fellow federal judge received this spring while pondering the sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice presidential aide convicted of lying to investigators about his role in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. While Bromwell probably won't be able to match the wattage of Scooter's correspondents -- everyone from Henry Kissinger to Mary Matalin and James Carville sang Libby's praises in their pleas for leniency -- surely he's scratched enough backs and greased enough palms over the years to command some similar favor-returning.

Wait -- this just in! Letters are already en route. Through the wonders of intercepted e-mails -- not to mention wild flights of imagination -- I can share a sampling of the major love being shown for Bromwell in the hopes of springing him from the clutches of the law.

Dear Judge Motz,

How you doing? I hear you are considering sending Tommy "The Mouth" Bromwell to prison over some little construction deal. Are you kidding me? As a waste management consultant just up the way in New Jersey, I know a little something about the way the business works. Some extra lumber here, a little tile work there, a nice job for the wife and no one gets hurt, capiche?

The poor guy already had to sell the Bromwell Inn to pay the lawyers -- it was no Bada Bing, but c'mon. And now you're taking his house, too? Have you seen the place? You walk in, and there are these two big columns. Classy, like something you'd see on TV.

You know, I'm not much of a letter writer. We should get together and talk some more about this. Maybe we can meet, at this diner called Holsten's -- you like onion rings? -- where we can get a nice corner booth.

Yours truly, Tony Soprano

Dear Judge Motz,

Let me tell you a little story. In 1980, another dedicated former public servant was convicted of bribery, for simply getting an exception for some land developers who wanted to build in the Gwynns Falls watershed despite a sewer moratorium. For that, he received $5,650 -- back when $5,650 was worth something. I -- I mean, he -- got fined, he got probation, he got disbarred.

But his friends in state government and in the business community stood by him. The governor granted him clemency, 23 of his important friends wrote letters to the Court of Special Appeals -- you might be hearing from some of these same fine people yourself about the matter before you -- and he got his law license back. No hard feelings. He continued to do business with the state, from without rather than within.

In the name of Agnew, Mandel, Bereano, Evans and all that is sacred to the way Maryland does business, I beg you to let Mr. Bromwell return to our fold so he can return to serving the interests of himself -- I mean, the citizens of this great state.

Sincerely, The Major Juice Man (Like Tommy says, number one I don't like to be in the limelight) Dear Judge Motz,

We write as hard-working, tip-dependent servers who cannot survive without the kind of restaurant patron who knows how to call for another round for everyone and don't be stingy with the wine. In our business, where you can get stuck with tables where everyone's on a diet or ordering "just water" to drink, we cannot afford to lose a Tommy Bromwell.

Since he's been distracted by his legal problems, the merlot is stacking up, and the bottle of cherry juice is overflowing. Please, let him go. Mr. Bromwell may be just another corrupt politician to you, but to us, he is the master of the $300 dinner and the $200,000 fundraiser. It's Jamaican us crazy that this supporter of the food and beverage industry may be locked in a cell, where the staff doesn't know how to make his special Crown Royal drink or get a party going and the wallets opening with chicken wings and meatballs.

Desperately, The waiters, bartenders and sommeliers of Ruth's Chris and the Bay Cafe

Dear Judge Motz,

You may think we are contacting you as a major corporation that owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bromwell for the bill he pushed in the General Assembly, saving us, by his tally, $75 million.

No, we write as just a simple company, no different from any mom-and-pop store on the corner, struggling with the same issue: Do you know how hard it is to find good help these days? There are only so many first ladies of Maryland, after all, and so if weren't for Tommy Bromwell referring his two sons to us, why, we're not sure what our Human Resources Division would have done to fill our executive ranks.

That is the Tommy Bromwell we know: a selfless, caring father, looking out the next generation -- of Bromwells, at least.

Respectfully, Comcast jean.marbella@baltsun.com

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