June 13, 2013: Edward St. John $55,000 Fine
For Immediate Release June 13, 2007
Edward St. John Charged Civilly with Campaign Finance Violations
The State Prosecutor has announced that Edward St. John, the owner of St. John Properties, Inc. has been charged in eleven (11) civil citations with making campaign contributions in excess of the statutory limitations through third parties who were then reimbursed for those contributions. Making contributions through third parties who expect to be reimbursed violations section 13-602(a)(5) of the Election Law Article. Mr. St. John has agreed to pay the maximum fine of $5,000 for each offense or a total of $55,000. In addition to the fine, Mr. St. John will be contributing another $55,000 to the College Bound Fund which assists underprivileged children in Baltimore with college expenses.
The charges arose as a result of contributions made by several St. John vice presidents who fully expected that they would be reimbursed for the contributions at a later time. In fact, those vice presidents, Lawrence Maykrantz, Robert Becker, Jeffrey Gish, Stanley Meros and H. Richard Williamson, were reimbursed for the contributions as a part of their year end bonus. Since there was insufficient evidence to establish that Mr. St. John knew that such actions violated Maryland law, civil citations were filed, instead of criminal charges.
As a part of the agreement, Mr. St. John agreed to disclose all of the contributions made by any of the St. John affiliated limited liability companies (LLCs). Eighteen of those LLCs were formed between May, 2205 and November, 2005 and there was nothing in the public record to associate them with St. John Properties. The address of St. John Properties was never used in any public record and certain internal documents at St. John referred to the bank accounts for these 18 entities as the “untraceable” accounts. In this case, Mr. St. John used his LLCs and third parties to pay various campaigns over $300,000 during just one election cycle. Those contributions were made to both Democrats and Republicans. However, the investigation by the State Prosecutor’s Office determined that all of the contributions were within the amounts permitted by Maryland law.
The investigation originated as a result of a report published by Common Cause. In that report, Common Cause commented that unusual nature of the contributions and the fact that the public documents shed no light about the real owners or even the real addresses of these LLCs.
The State Prosecutor, Robert A. Rohrbaugh, commented,
“Under the law in this State, Maryland citizens should have the opportunity to know who is contributing to what politician in order to judge the actions of their elected officials. While the total contributions in this case did not exceed the amounts permitted by Maryland law, the use of third parties or LLCs to disguise the true source of the contributions certainly violates the spirit of Maryland’s law, if not the letter of the law. And, if those contributors even unintentionally go over the line drawn by the law, they will at least be fined.”
Edward St. John is represented by William J. Murphy whose telephone number is 410-783-7000.