Loose Lips

HTJ, A Coach Like No Other

Disgraced former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. received more than $220,000 in what appear to be no-bid  contracts from the Department of Parks and Recreation before he was elected to office, according to a review of purchase orders obtained by LL. And Neil Rodgers, who would later go to work for Thomas at the D.C. Council and played a role in Thomas' theft of more than $300,000 in public funds, had a hand in administering some of the contracts, the records show.

From 2004 to 2006, when Thomas was first elected, his for-profit company, HLT Development, was a regular contractor with DPR to provide sport camps and coaching clinics at recreation centers around town (including a $5,725 charge for a "Football Cheerleading Camp" in September 2004). In comments at the bottom of one purchase order, a city staffer indicates that Thomas did not have to compete for the contracts with other would-be coaches.

"There were no [other] contractors that could meet the specific requirements of the multi-sport clinician," the note says, explaining the rationale for awarding Thomas the sole-source contract.

In some of the contracts, Thomas was paid nearly $6,000 for "curriculum development, photocopying and supplies." Thomas handed out copies of the fruits of those contracts last November when he held a news conference to defend his non-profit, Team Thomas. At the back of the 21-page "Baseball/Softball Training Manual" (LL excerpted a page below) Thomas indicated that his indoor baseball clinics were also sponsored by frequent political campaign contributors Jack Olender, a malpractice attorney, and Fort Myer Construction, the city's biggest road paving contractor.

Rodgers is listed as the DPR employee who was supposed to receive a copy of the contract in a number of the purchase orders. After working for DPR, he went to work as Thomas' committee clerk. Most recently, he was fired last week by Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown. His attorney, A. Scott Bolden, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement of offense filed in federal court Friday as part of Thomas' plea deal, prosecutors describe Rodgers' role (he's identified only as STAFFER #1) in Thomas' scheme to steal from the city. STAFFER #1 submitted fake invoices on behalf of a pass-through organization to the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation at Thomas' direction, court records say. Rodgers has not been charged with any crime, and Bolden has said his client is a witness in the Thomas case, not a target of prosecutors.

LL's trying to figure out who approved the no-bid contracts and will update as needed.

Here's a page out of Thomas' training manual:

[scribd id=78174004 key=key-2bvg6161vsjugfil6lx2 mode=list]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Just Curious

    Now isn't that interesting...

    @ Alan, are there any other big contracting scandals (or under-reported scandals) where members of the council played a role in trying to direct the outcome? Like the lottery?

    I'm just curious...

  • One that cares

    I have a hunch that these types of shenanigans may have been going on since Harry Thomas Senior was in office. Why do I say this? Because HTJ never had a real job until he became a councilman. He also lived in his parents' home until age 32, drove fancy cars, and acted like a big shot. After he married, he had a big house, family, and still no real job except this sports coaching gig contract and assisting his father. Hmmm...something sure smells fishy. Also, he sure knew how the system worked before he got on the coucil since his stealing started so soon after the swearing in.

  • NE John

    Let's hope all those commandments are violated by his prison mates when he's playing "catcher" in the slammer

  • Drez

    So not surprising.
    Good to see it coming out.

  • Green Eyeshade

    This is excellent reporting. Why is WaPo doing little or none of this legwork? Wait. How much do WaPo's mascots (Charter schools and "Race to the Top") get in city & federal grants? Never mind ....

  • Green Eyeshade

    Basic reason DOJ probably did not charge Thomas with fraud for the the non-compete sole-source slush fund payoffs: probably statute of limitations. The main reason why we should always demand instant prosecutions in these cases, because statutes of limitation begin to expire much sooner than many folks realize.

    So, for example, while we can bitch about the fact that Thomas was able to sustain his frauds for nearly five years before he was charged (early 2007 to December 2011), we should not stand for any further delays in prosecution of Kwame's money laundering & his brother Che's tax evasion arising from Kwame's 2008 campaign. Three years have already slipped by.

  • NE John

    Good point Green Eyeshade. Let's get Kwame and do it now.

  • NE John

    I will ask eye-gore to work overtime tonight at the castle to prepare torches and pitchforks in preparation for storming the District Bldg. Hot scalding oil also available on a first-come first-serve basis. Come one, come all.

  • Green Eyeshade

    @NE John -- the DOJ and IRS cannot expect us to believe that the Public Integrity Section at DOJ and the criminal tax division at IRS lack sufficient lawyer power (and FBI support) to tackle BOTH the multiple co-conspirators in Harry L. Thomas's criminal organization AND Kwame's money-laundering and Che's tax evasion. The amount laundered through Kwame's 2008 campaign (more than $200,000) is just as serious as the amount stolen by Harry L. Thomas (HLT), the only difference is Kwame laundered private money donated to his campaign while HLT embezzled taxpayer dollars (and federal grant funds).

    I say "just as serious" because the sentencing guidelines included in HLT's plea agreement used the "offense level" for a financial crime involving "more than $200,000" but less than $400,000.

    HLT's plea agreement also specifically listed the sentencing guideline that covers filing a false income tax return to evade payment of taxes on income of $346,000. Something very similar would apply to Che's tax evasion if he failed to declare income from Kwame's campaign of $200,000 or more.

  • One that cares

    @NE John, how about some tar and feather for an appetizer?

  • NE John

    You must be psychic, one that cares! To the 14th Street Bridge

  • NE John

    You are preaching to the choir, greennie!

  • http://cfo.dc.gov/cfo/cwp/view,a,1327,q,591118,cfoNav,|33299|.asp Green Eyeshade

    @ Just Curious -- this is the guy who monitors the cash at the Lottery Board:

    DC Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board
    Chief Financial Officer

    William Robinson
    (202) 645-8010
    william.robinson@dc.gov

    At least he's the name currently listed on the CFO's directory:

    http://cfo.dc.gov/cfo/cwp/view,a,1327,q,591118,cfoNav,|33299|.asp

  • Green Eyeshade

    @ NE John -- I wanna hear more parakeets singing. Or more stool pigeons squawking. Whichever metaphor floats your boat.

  • truth hurts

    Speaking of the lottery, has Gray testified at his court ordered deposition in Payne's lottery contract lawsuit yet?

  • Ward One Resident

    Never liked Neil Rodgers, always thought there was something shifty about him. Had no proof, just a feeling. Guess those feelings were right.

  • http://dclibrary.org libraryunionmember

    At last! Someone figured out why this incompetent idiot who helped run DPR into the ground was hired by the council. He not only was the bag man - he probably got a cut. BTW HTJ (and neil) were so lazy that for their annual oversight hearings all he did was find DPR and replace it with DCPL - he used the same questions for both agencies! Politically stupid, too. All he cared about was the unions. News flash - 60% of all DC government workers live in Maryland now, so the unions can't help much. But then again legislating was his part time job - stealing (with the help of prissy old Neil) was the main gig.

  • nechickie

    LOL if you guys EVER decide to hit a comedy club on open mike night club PLEASE post it here-I will pay OH SO BIG teacher bucks to attend!

  • DC 4

    No excuse for Dirty Harry's behavior but this is a systemic issue. Fenty 's crew did business this way as well but Nickes covered their a$$es. Wells did similar crap on H St.

    We need New leadership in DC. All of them crooks have to go!

  • truth hurts

    By claiming others "did business this way", do you mean they stole govt money for personal bling? If so, please contact the FBI and/or the USATTY. They seem to take public corruption seriously.

    If the Feds charge and convict "Fenty's crew", I'll be the first to speak up. Absent that, don't worry, be happy.... with your One City.

  • sinclair skinner

    two years ago dirty harry and dirty mary were holding dpr contract hearings to stop waste fraud and abuse. now he's going to jail. lesson, if a slick corrupt politician tells a big enough lie long enough even good people and the silly corporate media will believe it. but you cant fool all the people all the time. anyone that steals from the people no matter color, sexual orientation, gender or religion should go to the worst prison with the worst cellmate for as long as possible.

  • Honest Abe

    Skinner

    You too are a thief, a cheat, and a crook. You are not fully in the clear yet, so I wouldn't be so quick to throw stones if I were you. Go back under the rock from which you crawled!

  • OccupytheCouncil

    Gotta re-post this:

    I think the U.S. Attorney Ron Machen only scratched the surface and Thomas will not be the only city official caught in the feds’ dragnet.

    Case in point, according to a recent DC Audit report, Peaceoholics received a $360,000 earmark grant from the Children and Youth Investment Trust (CYIT) via Fenty's Deputy Mayor, Neil Albert. The grant ONLY required one report and Peaceoholics never submitted it.

    Councilman Wells-- a Fenty loyalist and staunch supporter-- had oversight of the dollars awarded to CYIT and Peaceoholics, recently stated in the Wash Post that “he was suspicious of the activities surrounding CYIT”, but he neither sounded the alarms nor called for an audit of CYIT or Peaceoholics.

    Councilman Well stated in the Wash Post that he saw the potential for fraud and he imposed reporting requirements for the grantees in the competitive bidding process.

    I’m questioning why Wells didn’t also impose “reporting requirements” for the council’s NON-COMPETITIVE earmark grants?

    The bottom-line is, the DC council is nothing more than an “old boys” network, and on numerous occasions they have shown the public that the council adheres to a code of silence when it’s one of their own.

    Not one councilmember spoke-out against Jim Graham’s failure to report his chief of staff criminal activities to the DC Inspector General; Wells didn’t request an audit of CYIT or Peaceoholics although he was suspicion; and, the millions of dollars in non-competitive earmarks that councilmembers were doling out to their associates and supporters have yet to be thoroughly scrutinized.

    U.S. Attorney Ron Machen definitely needs to expand his investigation to include a comprehensive audit of the council’s non-competitive earmarks. This council is too entrenched in unethical practices to police each other.

    I bet there are other councilmembers who have also committed fraudulent acts with non-competitive earmarks--including the ones who are now exploiting this media opt to promote their desires for higher office in 2014.

  • From the top of the hill

    First off LibraryUnion they can still help the DC politicians as the Unions and their independent expenditures are the campaign ground teams behind folks such as Vincent Gray, Harry Thomas and Vincent Orange. Likewise their negative campaign commercials and the likes go unregulated. At the same time they are attacking businesses for giving to candidates, funny how that works.

    As for Skinner, he is just fine, he aint did a damn thing and all of you Vince Gray ass kissers don't want to mention his boy Christopher Smith who owns all of east of the river, builds anything over there and who built his illegal fence. How about that discussion?

  • They’re all Bums!

    Thank you very much Occupy Council. Whenever Skinner gets on here and acts holy, or the Fenty nut-huggers get too overzealous, it's a nice reminder that the problem is city wide and covers local pols of all affiliations. Aside from maybe Mendelson, all the Council's tainted in some way or form by questionable acts either in their past or in their Council tenure.

  • RepoMan

    Neil Albert, Fenty's Deputy Mayor, was the Director of the Department of Recreation under Mayor Williams when Thomas was receiving non-competitive earmarks from the council, he was the Deputy Mayor when CYIT was being used as a slush fund by Peaceoholics and Thomas.

  • sinclair skinner

    honestly abe get a life you probably believed that iraq had wmd's. you still believe the lies that dirty harry and dirty mary told. you probably were dumb enough to vote for him. little advice start watching RT.com for your news instead of the citypaper and stop being a coward use your real name. sticks and stones break bones, words fool idiots like you and criminal activities put people like dirty harry in jail.

  • sinclair skinner

    dickhead abe get a life you probably believed that iraq had wmd's. you still believe the lies that dirty harry and dirty mary told. you probably were dumb enough to vote for him. little advice start watching RT.com for your news instead of the citypaper and stop being a coward use your real name. sticks and stones break bones, words fool idiots like you and criminal activities put people like dirty harry in jail.

  • Honest Abe

    Sinclair Skinner

    You think you know, but you have no idea. I'm not a millionaire like you, therefore I choose to use my alias. Wait, how did you become a millionaire again? Oh yeah, Mayor Fenty. For the record, I've never liked HTJ. I think he's a dirty crook, just like you and your crew. Bold prediction; you & Fenty will one day share jail cells!

  • sinclair skinner

    coward coward abe, ive always been outspoken. your mentioning of money is a sorry excuse for throwing rocks and hiding your hand. if you are man enough to accuse me of real criminal activity you should be man enough to use your real name, but since you’re not i will call you myb*tch which is a great description of your behavior.

    ps. since i dont know you, please dont take my comments personal. im sure you’re a fine person im just arguing with your citypaper persona and i truly wish you no personal bad will.

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