(UPDATE: Later in 2011, an Anne Arundel County judge reversed this conviction. Click here to read that story.)
The son of Maryland Minority Contractors Association President Arnold M. Jolivet has been convicted of theft for charging more than $4,000 in car rental bills over several months to his state-issued credit card.
Arnold M. Jolivet II, who had been the Maryland Environmental Services minority business liaison officer for a year in February 2010 when the charges were discovered and he was fired, received a suspended sentence of five years probation and must pay fines and court costs totaling $1,895.
The younger Jolivet, 40, says he takes “full responsibility” for what happened but denies he intended to steal from or defraud the state. He intends to appeal the conviction, and the elder Jolivet, who is a lawyer, believes his son will be vindicated.
“I don’t think the Court of Special Appeals will agree with [Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul Goetzske],” Jolivet, 68, said Friday.
The younger Jolivet’s lawyer, Alan H. Legum, argued at trial on Thursday that the incident more closely fit the unauthorized use of a credit card civil statute rather than the more serious theft law. Jolivet claimed he only offered up the state credit card as back-up and that the charges began accruing on that card after the funds on his personal debit card were exhausted.
“Our overriding argument was it’s not a crime what he did,” Legum said, noting Jolivet paid the company back shortly after being confronted with the charges.
Legum said the case is one of first impression.
The elder Jolivet believes his recent protest of the proposed $1.5 billion State Center redevelopment project, typical of his work before the Maryland Board of Public Works or Baltimore Board of Estimates, prompted the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute his son more severely.
“I think it has more to do about me than him,” he said. “I can only say that shortly before the charges were brought I had protested the attorney general’s action on State Center. And I believe there’s a substantial connection between the attorney general wanting to suppress my speech and my actions.”
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler dismissed Jolivet’s theory as “completely erroneous” and said it shows he “doesn’t understand the process.”
“Pursuant to executive order,” Raquel Guillory, the spokeswoman, said, “all employee misconduct cases must be referred to the AG’s criminal division. That’s the process. We don’t pick and choose how we do this.”
This is also not Arnold M. Jolivet II’s first such run-in with the law.
Since 1997, he has been charged several times with theft or passing a bad check. All the charges were stetted or nolle prossed until 2005 when he pleaded guilty to a theft scheme count and received probation before judgment.
That case, said Jolivet II, involved a “similar situation” — that is, the unauthorized credit card charge of a rental car — while he was working for the Maryland Transit Administration.
“Those things, if it were a check of something like that, all of those were paid, thus the nolle prosse or the stet,” he said. “Pretty much bad accounting or poor management on my part.”
The younger Jolivet said he is now “self-employed doing some consulting work…business development, sales, things of that nature” and has plans to stay out of trouble.
“Really being more detail-oriented and making sure everything’s in place,” he said. “And no rental cars for me. It’s not worth it.”