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A Baltimore plumber pleaded guilty to an extortion charge after he was charged with aiding a Baltimore Department of Public Works supervisor in a scheme to install and maintain services for private developers in exchange for cash.

Philip Michael Loverde pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to extort under color of official right, a month after he and former DPW supervisor Ronald Maurice Smith were charged with using DPW workers and equipment as part of a scheme to personally enrich themselves.

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According to a plea agreement filed Wednesday, Loverde obtained plumbing contracts through his company, All Services Plumbing and Heating, and directed private developers and contractors to Smith to install further services without obtaining the necessary permits.

While the plea agreement was filed and signed Wednesday, the document itself is dated July 3, 2019, several months before Loverde was officially charged in U.S. District Court.

An attorney for Loverde declined to comment Thursday.

Smith and Loverde perpetuated the scheme from January 2014 through February 2016, court documents say.

Smith is charged with gaining at least $64,000 as a result of the scheme. Smith has pleaded not guilty to extortion charges as well as an additional weapons charge, as prosecutors say he owned a firearm while being a convicted felon.

According to the plea agreement, Loverde helped Smith in securing an illegal project for a fire line installation at 1759 E. Preston St. in Baltimore’s Broadway East neighborhood in 2015.

In either October or November 2015, a property manager on behalf of TRF Development Properties, now known as ReBUILD Metro, contacted Loverde to ask Smith for an estimate to install the fire line after a bonded approved contractor gave the company a $35,000 estimate for the project.

TRF Development has been involved in rehabilitating some of the city’s blighted neighborhoods and had contracted with East Baltimore II LLC to do similar work in 2015, court documents state.

As of July 2017, the nonprofit developer had spent $85 million over nearly a decade to buy and develop more than 100 residential properties in the mile-and-a-half stretch between Penn Station and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

According to the plea agreement, Loverde and Smith gave TRF an estimate of exactly half the price, $17,500, to install a water line for indoor sprinklers at the location and charged them $14,400 for new water and sewer lines at various properties on the 1200 block of N. Gay St.

“Smith obtained no permits from either DPW or Baltimore’s [Department of Transportation] for the street cut, paid no traffic fee, and paid no inspection fees,” the plea agreement reads. “In addition, Smith used DPW work crews, equipment and material to install the waterline at 1759 E. Preston Street to feed the fire sprinkler system.”

In a statement, ReBUILD Metro said the property manager involved in the deal, named only “G.H.” in the plea agreement, “has not been employed by the company for many years.”

“We have fully cooperated with authorities investigating this matter and will continue to do so if requested,” the company said through a spokeswoman. “ReBUILD Metro is dedicated to revitalizing neighborhoods. We pride ourselves on our groundbreaking work and the trust we have established in those communities.”

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