Democrats find a Womble client tied to fraud case
The Maryland Democratic Party has taken note of a previously undisclosed Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice client: convicted fraudster Alan Fabian.
In a press release this week, the Democrats said recently uncovered court documents show that the Baltimore law office headed by Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was paid more than $55,000 in August 2007 by a Fabian company.
Ehrlich is seeking to defeat Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who ousted him four years ago.
The Democrats said the company paid Womble to "represent it during Fabian’s criminal trial," an assertion that Ehrlich aide Henry Fawell -- who until last month also worked for Womble -- called "100 percent false."
Womble's representation of the Centre for Management and Technology was "not at all related to Fabian," Fawell said, adding that the firm provided only "the sort of routine legal work that is required by nonprofits."
State Democratic Party spokesman Isaac Salazar said Ehrlich "puts on a face for the public but then associates with folks like Alan Fabian."
Fabian, a onetime Cockeysville resident and Republican fund-raiser, pleaded guilty in 2008 to a Ponzi-style fraud that netted at least $40 million, according to prosecutors. He was sentenced to nine years in federal prison.
He served as finance committee chairman for Michael S. Steele's 2006 U.S. Senate bid (Steele was Ehrlich's lieutenant governor) and as one of dozens of finance chairmen for Mitt Romney's presidential bid.
A federal prosecutor called Fabian's Centre for Management and Technology (CMAT) "nothing but the next vehicle for Mr. Fabian to get millions and millions of more dollars."
The nonprofit, ostensibly created to offer technology consulting to charities, opened lines of credit with banks only to default, causing losses of more than $7 million, according to the court case.
CMAT had been represented by David Hamilton when he was at Ober Kaler, the firm where Ehrlich began his legal career. When Hamilton, a longtime Ehrlich associate, joined Womble in early 2007, he brought that client with him. Fabian was indicted in August 2007. Womble represented CMAT (now defunct) for about a year.
During his heyday, Fabian donated thousands of dollars to the Republican party and its candidates. The Democrats allege that Fabian and his associates donated more than $60,000 to Ehrlich's campaign and more than $80,000 to the state Republican Party before being indicted. Democrats are calling for that money to be returned.
Fawell noted that O'Malley's campaign accepted contributions from CMAT. State records show CMAT contributed $1,000 to O'Malley's campaign in October 2004. Fabian did business both with Baltimore when O'Malley was mayor and with Maryland when Ehrlich was governor.
Asked why the Democrats were publicizing the years-old information this week, Salazar said, "We put something out every week. This is just another thing about Bob Ehrlich that's out there in the public record."
Fawell said he sees another motivation: "They'll sink to whatever level they need to in order to district people from their candidate's failure to show leadership on the economy."