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For Immediate Release
March 24, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

FORMER STATE EMPLOYEE CONVICTED OF ACCEPTING BRIBES


Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Vivian McLean Odom was convicted on her plea of guilty to Bribery, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Ms. Odom, a former employee of the Division of Corrections (Baltimore Pre-Release Unit), admitted to Judge Lynn Stewart that between October, 2002 and February, 2003 she received bribes from Stone Cold Chemical, Incorporated, a janitorial and maintenance supply company from whom she ordered numerous items, using her State credit card. She was sentenced to two years in jail, with all but 30 days suspended. Odom was also ordered to pay a $500 fine, and was placed on supervised probation for two years.

In return for ordering from Stone Cold, Ms. Odom received various pieces of fishing gear and equipment valued at over $300, for the purpose of influencing her in the performance of her official duties as a State employee and for neglecting and failing to perform the same.

According to the State’s Statement of Facts, Stone Cold kept detailed records of the bribes they paid Ms. Odom, on what they whimsically called "catch reports". Each of their salespeople were trained to charge as much as 12 times the value of the items sold, and to persuade potential buyers like Ms. Odom to pay those high prices by offering to them bribes valued at approximately 10% of whatever they ordered. Buyers were given a choice of gift certificates from such establishments as Outback Steakhouse, Victoria’s Secret, Toy R Us and Wal-Mart, or fishing equipment from Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s.

As one example of exorbitant pricing, Stone Cold sold paper towels to Odom for $259 for 180 towelettes, whereas the Maryland distributor of the product only charges $28.64 for the same quantity. Ms. Odom also paid $21 for a can of de-icer and $15 a bottle of disinfectant. In return, she was sent rods and reels, fishing knives, a fishing rod display rack and numerous other items of fishing accessories and equipment.

State procurement officers, such as Odom, are supposed to check first whether an item they wish to order for their agency is available from either Blind Industries or State Use Industries. Both preferred vendors offer most of the items Odom purchased, but at significantly lower prices. In addition, neither vendor charges freight, whereas Stone Cold charged twice the freight expenses incurred, passing that unnecessary expense along to the State.

Stone Cold’s owners and salespeople have been successfully prosecuted in Georgia and Florida State Courts for bribing State employees.

This case was referred to the AG’s Office by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and investigated by the AG’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Maryland State Police.
 

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