Former Maryland Pension Trustee Expected To Plead Guilty

August 29, 2003 ( - Former Maryland pension trustee Debra Humphries is expected to plead guilty on charges that she accepted gifts in return for investment back-scratching while serving on the pension fund's board.

Humphries was charged with a single count of perjury, accused of failing to disclose to a federal grand jury that Baltimore money manager Nathan Chapman Jr had given her $46,000 in money and gifts (See  “Relationships” Entangle Maryland Pension Fund ).  Humphries resigned from the state pension board June 16 in a letter noting personal reasons, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

She was scheduled to stand trial next month.  The newspaper report did not say whether Humphries would cooperate with federal prosecutors.    However, cooperation would not be a surprise, since it is a fairly common requirement in plea deals such as this.

Relationships A Go-Go

Humphries’ anticipated guilty plea is the opposite of the action taken by her former love interest Chapman.   In July, invoking the name and words of the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for inspiration, Chapman denied allegations that he had defrauded Maryland’s $25-billion state pension fund (See  Chapman Pleads Not Guilty in Maryland Fraud Case ).

Chapman, who has been accused of illegally investing more than $5 million of Maryland’s pension funds into his own company, pleaded not guilty to 39 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, and mail fraud(See  Feds Charge Chapman With Md. Pension Investment Fraud ).   Chapman, the former chairman of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, has also been accused of diverting $437,000 from his eChapman firm and two predecessor firms, both publicly held, starting in 1998 (See Bad Investment Could Cost MD Millions ).

Following his not guilty plea, Chapman was defiant, saying he drew inspiration from King in his promise that he would continue to aid minority-owned businesses, according to the Baltimore Sun. 

“As a child, I heard the call of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King for people to help other people. I still hear it,” Chapman said, reading from a statement on the steps of US District Court in Baltimore, according to the report.  Chapman said his business had overcome “the worst stock market since the Depression … record bankruptcies, two wars, and the tragedy of September 11. We will overcome this as well.”