City Desk

New DYRS Chief Helped Ruin Fire Investigators’ Careers

Peter Nickles

Yesterday, Mayor Adrian Fenty fired DYRS' interim-director and replaced him with AG Peter Nickles' "top aide" Robert Hildum. In today's WaPo story, the controversial attorney general had high praise for his side kick:

"Nickles said that Hildum's experience as a prosecutor is an asset at a time when some critics have said that the agency's focus on rehabilitation has come at the expense of public safety. 'I think Rob Hildum brings that terrific approach of balancing rehabilitation with protection of the community,' Nickles said."

But two Fire Department investigators turned whistleblowers may have a different view of Hildum's prosecutorial style. Hildum was instrumental in helping Fire Department brass ruin their careers.

In recent years, Greg Bowyer and Gerald Pennington spoke out repeatedly at what they considered to be shoddy investigative work by the Fire Department, racist hiring practices, and improper prosecutions by the OAG. They called out several cases–including the Eastern Market fire–which they claim were not handled properly by authorities. They have since been demoted for their efforts. Hildum was instrumental in Bowyer's demotion, erroneously claiming in a letter to the U.S. Attorney's Office [see PDF] that the investigator had committed perjury during a trial. Bowyer ended up detailed out of the fire investigations unit. He now works in a unit testing fire hydrants. The U.S. Attorney's Office never brought a perjury charge against Bowyer. [For the full accounting of Bowyer and Pennington's case see this timeline]. Hildum eventually wrote a damaging letter saying he wouldn't support any of Pennington's cases. Hildum's letter writing campaign began after the two filed a complaint against an OAG attorney (who was at one point a very questionable police officer; she resigned from the force while under investigation for covering up mistakes made in a missing person's case).

Pennington has been cleared of all charges but remains out of fire investigations; he's now the most-over qualified firefighter to ever ride an ambulance.

Hildum apparently shares many of the same dickish traits as AG Nickles. In Bowyer's trial board hearing, Hildum admitted that one of the reasons he wrote those critical letters is that Bowyer and Pennington had filed a complaint against one of his own.

Bowyer and Pennington have a civil suit pending in federal court. "The fire department and the Office of Attorney General retaliated against Bowyer and Pennington for refusing to go along with faulty investigations, prosecutions and cover-ups," says their attorney David J. Marshall. "Through their lawsuit, they intend to expose the motivation behind the actions taken against them and to correct the injustice that they suffered."

*classic file photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Grumpy

    Fenty is trying to lose this election...He's all but saying to voters: EFF U

    Are you all gonna take it? Cause it don't much matter what you post online or complain about in the barbershop or hair salon or golf course or coffeehouse if you don't do anything come election time.

  • blkwrestl

    trust we will i and my friends, neighbors and colleagues will be out to vote and he is gonna be outta here as well as non resident nickels and the rest of these foreigners working in this city

  • Rick Mangus

    It's always the little guy who get's screwed!

  • Marie Jackson

    Reason 101 to vote for Gray.

  • John

    You mean all 70% of the DC govt employees who don't live in the city? Works for me.

  • I am now decided

    Thank you Mayor Fenty for hiring Robert Hildum and making it easy for me to decide who to vote for this Nov.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Marie Jackson' "Reason 101" to vote for neither of these jerks! We need an alternative like Carol Schwartz, NOW!

  • Marie Jackson

    Rick Mangus

    I too think Carol Schwartz would be a great candidate. However, wishful thinking will not make it happen.

    Therefore, Gray over Fenty.

  • Tformation

    Rick.... Next lifetime for Carol. We had our chance and we blew it. All because of our sick loyalty to dem party.... Right now, this Sept. We can either get Fenty out by voting for Grey or keep him in by voting for him, Leo or anyone other than Grey. Fenty would love for us to find a third party to take votes from Grey so he can getback in there for 4 more years!!!

  • DCDem

    If they replaced the name with Peter Nickles you would think it was his doing all along. I cannot believe that the District has two of these assholes working in the government. Since when do attorney's who represent the legal interest of the government, go on smear campaign when there is a valid complaint against another attorney. Is the D.C. bar association paying attention?

    This guy is not going to take DYRS in a different direction. He is going to continue these silly "return the felon to his neighborhood" reforms, but more expeditiously.

    Remember it was Peter Nickles that was suing the pants off of the District on behalf of these felons before becoming an insider running the city on behalf of the Mayor.

    It is great that this guy is "interim" (temporary).

    Another person to be replaced in the Gray Administration.

  • S.E.

    "Hildum was instrumental in helping Fire Department brass ruin their careers."

    Boyer and Pennington were the lead investigators on a case involving a Captain of the Fire Prevention Division of the DCFD. This Captain was charged with bribery, among other charges by the then Fire Marshall of the DCFD.

    After a unvestigation by the FBI, it was decided that there was no grounds to proceed with the charges. The AGO and the DCFD felt otherwise and a Fire Department Trail Board was initiated against the Captain seeking a penalty of termonation.

    Not only did this Fire Department Trail Board last all of Two (2) years, resulting in a cost of approximately $700,000 to the tax payers of the District of Columbia, the Captain was found Not Guilty of all charges and all of the "Major Players" in the investigation, i.e. (Boyer, Pennington, Fire Marshall) have been brought up on charges by the DCFD.

    The corruption in this city, like still waters, runs deep!

  • S.E.

    After an investigation by the FBI, penalty of termination

  • SuperS

    Seriously people, we have got to the Fenty out of office, I feel like the Mofia is running the government.

  • SuperS stands for Super Slow

    What's a Mofia?

  • no-it-all-2

    i have 2 go, but i did wanted some of the poster here 2 at lease start looking in the right direction. always follow the money. they wouldnt give in 2 ron moten on the new funding. he went and slanderd everyone of the same people who has been feeding him at DRYS 4 the last 4 years. one of his and rev issac board members is in the grants department in DYRS. again u all talk about moe , so u never will catch the big fish,which is rev issac. he get moe money from DYRS than any other provider. thsat who the fenty run funding thru 4 moe and his whatever. moe got the last director out,and he definite got this one. FOLLOW THE MONEY. who do u think moe is gonna fund his 4 profit apartment group homes thru. u guess DYRS. at least u all can start looking in the right direction. FOLLOW THE MONEY. have a great day everyone....

  • Terry Miller

    The former General Counsel of Fire/EMS was moved from her position and terminated because she questioned some of the administrations tactics in that same Fire Captain's case. She has a whistleblower law suit, Cusick v. D.C. currently pending in Superior Court, and is represented, pro bono, by a non-profit public interest law firm, the Government Accountability Project (GAP).

  • nomobs

    S.E., you’re an idiot. Everyone in the department knows that Captain Tony Falwell and his crew were dirty, not only dirty but stupid. Captain Falwell was working at Mirrors Night Club getting paid by checks. This was the very same establishment he (as a “Lieutenant?” of FPD) conducted the required pre-opening inspection of which is normally done by an Inspector not a Lieutenant.
    Captain Falwell aka DJ Chocolate Boogie is probably the worse DJ in the city, but yet landed a high paying DJ gig at a hot new night club. (Hmmm???) Not to mention the letter at the front door of the establishment on DC Government letter head with Falwell’s signature. Oh and what about the great captain’s very own friend and subordinate that told all to Asst Chief Brain K. Lee (Head of Internal Affairs) then resigned with 24 years on the job? Yeah, I know, it’s all a coincidence.
    Get real, Captain Falwell got off because the DCFD Trial Board is made up of two captains and two low level chiefs that are appointed by the fire chief and or his cronies and often promised promotions in exchange for doing what they are told. The trial board is the biggest joke in the department, second to Fire Chief Dennis Rubin, and it finds however the Fire Chief /Asst Fire Chief direct.
    In fact, Falwell’s friendship with Deputy Chief Ronnie Gill, Captain Westfield and other
    Fire Truck Give Away Committee Members helped most with getting him off the hook. Look S.E., We all know, it not what you know, but who you know, in DCFD. Boyer and Pennington exposed the corruption in DCFEMS from the top down. They took no prisoners (black, white or other) and paid the ultimate price. If those guys would have kept their mouths closed, did what they were told and kissed Asst Chief Shultz’s ring/ass, they would not be where they are today.
    I wish those guys all the best……………Fight on Brothers!

  • S.E.

    "Get real, Captain Falwell got off because the DCFD Trial Board is made up of two captains and two low level chiefs that are appointed by the fire chief and or his cronies and often promised promotions in exchange for doing what they are told."

    I'm not a Smart Man, but it would seem to me that fire chief and his cronies would want guilty verdict.

  • William Van Croft

    DYRS - was supposed to monitor my sister Reve Van Croft after she bludgeoned me, stabbed me, and tried to murder the government's witness again Jackie Van Croft. Oh - she also told me and my father she was going to kill us...DYRS sent her back home to live with us - after she had been in a mental institution for theft and aggrevated assault....great job DYRS. No they didn't monitor her...they never stopped by....

  • William Van Croft

    Correction - Reve was placed in a mental institution after she said she would try again to murder the government's witness...she was charged with aggravated assault and theft after some shoddy police work.... she was sent to the mental institution again after attacking my dad and running through Coolidge High School...great job DYRS

  • Engine 10

    The Willy Lynch letter and other physical aspects of slavery are clearly manifested in the mentality of todays African-American DC Firefighter.

    Every black man or woman on the DCFD needs to look in the mirror and see that their closed mouth is the reason that black residents in DC receive substandard treatment from the DCFD in times of fire or medical calls; they need to look in the mirror and see that their closed mouth has caused most of the problems they are having on the DCFD; they need to look in the mirror and see that their closed mouth has caused the DC Fire Department to QUIETLY go from 68% African-American in 1997, to 43% in 2010!!

    You have courage to fight fires, but you are cowards when fighting racism.

    It has been said you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

    If just a few of you get together and inform a few select churches with what is REALLY happening on the DCFD you would find all the support you need.

  • Truck 16

    Make no mistake about it, the "sellouts" that comprise the DCFD have absolutely no cahoonas to do what's right, in fact, they'll sale anotha' brotha up the river so fast that it'll make your head spin, right along with the fact that former chief, UNCLE TOM Adrian Thompson orchestrated and facilitated the bulk of that nearly 30% drop in BLACK firefighters in the district by allowing the busing in of out of town dudes from as far away as WISCONSIN, without a peep from the UNION, while scape goating and carving up the once feeder program, CADETS!

    WE are our own worse enemy and can only blame ourselves, Lee, Falwell, Gill and Westfield, all cowardice thieves who not only sold out DCFD, but sold out all the young black boys and girls who aspire to be FIREFIGHTERS!


  • The world is a stage

    There is no doubt, this was the only way up to get Eastren Market covered up to protect the city's interest. It's a sad day when any member is using his rank and authority to make cash through the department means and ways curruption division. The Mayor and the Fire Chief once again are only there for each other, they cover each other's ass as if they were Linus and his blanket. Thanks again for the imbarrassment to the Department. And shame on all of you who suck up to get your pockets full of that selfish greed which shows "it's not what you do but who you know"

  • DCFEMS is ruin

    S.E. "I'm not a Smart Man, but it would seem to me that fire chief and his cronies would want guilty verdict."

    why would the fire chief and his cronies want a guilty verdict on one of their own flunkies and good friend of the Fire Truck Give Away Committee Chairman, who happens to be best friends with the Deputy Chief In Charge of DC Fire Internal Affairs Milton Dougals aka kiss azz dougie.

    you are right about one thing, you are not a Smart Man.