Today’s federal indictment of Barry S. Robinson, former division chief of the Charm City Circulator, says the eight-year veteran of city government had a unique plan to supplement his retirement pay.
He wanted to sell off bus shelters.
According to the grand jury indictment released today by Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney General for Maryland, Robinson, now 65, arranged in 2011 for Baltimore City to buy 13 bus shelters for Circulator service for $249,290.
The city “did not keep track of the shelters,” which were never used, so as early as May 2013, Robinson took steps to sell them “in order to help fund his retirement.”
A year later, in March 2014, he struck pay dirt. On April 9, 2014, he accepted a check for $70,000 – less than a third of the price the city paid – in return for the bus shelters.
Today’s criminal information does not give the name of the party who wrote the check or discloses the current whereabouts of the shelters.
Bribes For Ads
In another scheme, Robinson returned a $40,000 check in payment for advertising on Circulator buses last year and offered to cancel the $40,000 debt to the city in return for $20,000 in cash. The debtor – unnamed in today’s informational release – declined the offer.
Then in January 2014, Robinson offered to extinguish $60,000 of advertising debt in return for $20,000 in cash.
“From January 23 to March 11, 2014, Robinson received four cash payments of $5,000 each. In return, Robinson provided a signed letter on Baltimore City letterhead falsely stating that the $60,000 debt had been paid,” according to the indictment.
For a detailed look at the Circulator’s uncertain future:
• Free or charging a fee, the Charm City Circulator is at a crossroads (10/17/14)
• Consultants assigned to study the Circulator, bike-share proposal (10/30/14)
In furtherance of his scheme, Robinson provided a signed letter on Baltimore City letterhead stating that the full debt had been paid and – seeking to disguise the source of the bribery proceeds – deposited some of the money into a bank account in the name of another person, according to the government.
Again, the indictment does not name the vendors involved or the holder of the bank account.
According to online city salary records, Robinson was hired on May 15, 2006, and was paid $78,000 in 2013 as division chief of transit and marine services (which operates the water taxi). He lives in Accokeek, Md., in Prince George’s County.
Baltimore Department of Transportation spokesperson Adrienne D. Barnes released a statement this afternoon saying the agency is “very disappointed to learn” of the charges against Robinson.
“It is a very sad day for the citizens of Baltimore, supporters of CCC [Charm City Circulator], our partners, stakeholders and city employees to learn that someone we trusted to oversee operations on a successful program could be indicted on such disturbing charges.”
Barnes said that the agency had begun a review of Circulator operations to examine the program’s “internal monetary controls and procedures.” Exactly when Robinson left his city position is not clear; he was reportedly working at his DOT job last week.
The federal investigation took place because the free bus service receives federal funds.
Robinson was indicted today on one count of money laundering and two counts of bribery. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for money laundering and 10 years in prison on each of the bribery counts.
Here is a video clip of Robinson talking about the Circulator in December 2010.