A former Baltimore Department of Public Works supervisor has pleaded guilty to using city crews to install water and sewer lines for private developers, according to the U.S. Attorney for Maryland.
Ronald M. Smith, 46, of Elkton, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a federal charge of extortion under color of official right for misusing his authority as a public employee.
According to federal prosecutors, Philip Michael Loverde, a plumber and owner of All Service Plumbing and Drain Cleaning, referred developers to a “utilities contractor,” Smith, who could install water and sewer services for them. Smith, a supervisor in DPW’s Water and Waste Management Division, was not a bonded approved utilities contractor, they said, nor a licensed contractor or plumber.
The U.S. Attorney’s office detailed several projects, both new construction and rehabilitation of old or historic properties, in which Smith used city equipment and crews to cut pavement, install new lines and connect them to water mains. Among the developers was the Philadelphia-based TRF Development Partners, a nonprofit known for renovating vacant properties in Oliver and other East Baltimore neighborhoods.
Smith received at least $64,000 for the work performed by DPW crews, prosecutors said. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, although the U.S. Attorney’s office said sentences are typically less. Loverde pleaded guilty to his role in the extortion scheme in January.
Sentencing dates for either Smith or Loverde have not been scheduled.