A Joppa man, who was after claiming he was too injured to continue working as a laborer for the county, pleaded entered an Alford plea Tuesday to felony theft charges.
James Robinson faces 15 years in jail when he is sentenced on Aug. 9 in Baltimore County Circuit Court. As part of his plea agreement, Robinson agreed to repay more than $49,000 in pension, disability and medical payments he received between 2010 and 2011.
In Alford plea, a defendant does not admit committing the act but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to obtain a conviction should the case go to trial.
Part of the repayment also includes reimbursing the county for the cost of the private investigators hired to tail and video Robinson.
County officials estimate Robinson received more than $300,000 in such payments since 2004, when he claimed he was injured when a steel bar used to control a tarp on a dump truck struck and injured his wrist.
Robinson claimed the injury left him totally disabled and unable to even walk.
"[Robinson] was prosecuted for what we could prove," said Adam Lippe, an assistant state's attorney. "Once [the county] caught him on tape, we had a pretty good case."
County officials hired private investigators to follow Robinson.
Last May, the county successfully cut off Robinson's disability payments. During a case before the county Board of Appeals, county attorneys presented more than showing Robinson was far less disabled than he claimed.
In one clip, Robinson can be seen in his county-purchased wheelchair in the back yard of his father's Carney home.
In the video, Robinson is shown holding a pruning device with his right hand—the arm he claimed was severely injured. Later Robinson uses his right hand to pull the cord to cut branches before dragging the debris away.
"The proof was in the video," Lippe said. "He was cutting a tree with a pole saw."
This story was updated to correct information related to James Robinson's plea that was provided by the state's attorney's office.