Loose Lips

Jim Graham Sued Over Metro Deal

Omar Karim, one of former Mayor Adrian Fenty's most-favored developers, is suing Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, Metro, and another developer over a failed bid to develop a Metro property on Florida Avenue NW. Karim's company, Banneker Ventures, filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court seeking $100 million in damages saying, the defendants took part in fraud, unjust enrichment, and conspiracy.

Graham has been dinged by both an independent investigation commissioned by Metro and by the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability for his role in objecting to Karim's efforts to develop the Metro parcel. The D.C. Council voted to reprimand Graham for violating the city's code of conduct, while Graham has vigorously maintained his innocence.

Karim's lawsuit covers the well-trod ground about Graham's efforts to leverage his vote on the city's lucrative lottery contract in an effort to put a Graham-favored developer, LaKritz Adler, on the Metro project. (LaKritz Adler is the other developer named in the lawsuit.) Allegedly, Graham said he'd vote to give the lottery contract to businessman Warren Williams Jr., who was then a part of Banneker Ventures, if Banneker brought LaKritz Adler onto the Metro deal. The lawsuit also has some other allegations of wrongdoing by Graham, including an allegation that Graham told Karim to throw him a campaign fundraiser before Graham, who was then a member of Metro's board of directors, would approve the development deal. Graham also wanted Karim to spend $40,000 a year supporting the U Street Business Improvement District, which Graham was spearheading, in exchange for his support, a request that was "a clear attempt at extortion," the lawsuit says.

There's also this: "Graham told Karim that he would agree to meet with him only if they met at Ten Penh restaurant, Graham’s 'favorite restaurant.'"

Reached by phone, Graham said, "I have no comment," before LL even asked him a question or said what he was calling about.

A spokeswoman for Metro said the agency would be providing a statement shortly. Attempts to reach representatives for LaKritz Adler were unsuccessful. Karim's lawyer was unavailable for an immediate comment.

Update: Graham has issued a statement saying that Banneker has no one to blame but Banneker for its failed Metro bid. "Although audacious given their dismal performance and demonstrated pattern of nonfeasance, Banneker’s claims are spurious and wholly unfounded. I look forward to an early dismissal."

Read the whole lawsuit here:

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • cycle


  • joan

    Diamond Jim is going to have to answer questions under oath during depositions - hooya!

  • Wish I Could Write

    LL -

    Will Metro and/or the Council have to provide for Graham's attorneys?

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    LOL@Miss Graham's outdated eye glasses.

  • Citizen Sugarcane

    I can just see Chuck Thies and Teddy Loza sitting in the first row in court with their knitting. Now if Ron Manchen would just bring his criminal indictment we'd have a perfect trifecta.

  • Citizen

    Mr Karim,

    Yours is a sacred mission sanctified by those beyond the grave who can not seek righteous justice for themselves.
    For those lives made spare by the venal appropriating of scant resources for their comfort and care we the living salute you. Regardless of the outcome of your case or the eventual findings of Mr. Manchen know that there is a special place in Hell for those who would steal from the sick and dying. You are blessed Mr. Karim.

  • Bay Glade

    @Wish I Could Write

    Jim Graham is indefensible.

  • Frederick Butler

    When the grass is cut the snakes will show...

  • NE John

    But is it in your conscience that you're after
    Another glimpse of the madman across the water

  • Pingback: Developer sues Metro and DC Council member over Florida Avenue deal - Washington Post | Land Depot of Florida

  • RealDC


  • http://twitter.com/monkeyrotica monkeyrotica

    Crooked crook sues crooked crook for not rigging crooked deal. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.


  • kob

    DC, i.e., the taxpayers, are probably on the hook for any judgment.

  • noodlez


  • er

    times they are a changin.
    goodbye old dc.

  • Hmm…

    FINALLY!! We'll get Graham on the record under oath. Hopefully they get him out before April!

    For the folks still complaining about Banneker, does the city have any complaints about the work they completed? Even as I go back and look at articles, it doesn't seem that Banneker's credentials or work product were in question. I've only seen gripes about the Fenty connection. I'm not sure what projects they've completed for DC Govt other than Walker Jones & Deanwood Rec but both locations are impressive.

  • DCpeoplewithrights

    Those on the top in DC will fall, as those on the bottom shall soon rise.

    Elected officials of the Executive and Legislative side have taken their role of responsibilities into a Corporate platform that has no benefit for the people that selected them for their best interest, starting w/ Mayor Williams where this outcome increased under Mayor Fenty, and now it's continues to expand each month as Mayor Gray governs.

    When will this city acquire a Mayor that does not transform the people overcrowdings, bike lanes that condense car paths which Cheh endorses, free contract/grant handouts to any non-Black entity, public school leadership that protects the Chancellor who should be a Superintendent under Ms. Catania.

    Will Ellerbe Fire Chief and Quander Deputy Mayor of Safety both be replaced? What's going on at Employment Services w/ Mallory and the 15 million dollar incentive lost from poor performing contracts that still get awarded.

    When will DCRA improve truly not under Gray. Can someone explain what's going on with the Department of General Services and Arts & Humanities under Victor Hoskins, the man with a smile for the public but a knife behind the door breaking all ethics of accountability and transparency. This is what happens, when an administration like weak Mr. Gray brings into our city, out-of-towner who has no compassion for DC, they will sale to the Developer everything even our history.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com and another thing . . .

    What tangled web politicians weave when they try to deceive. . .

  • Whatelseisnew?

    What Fenty did for Banneker can't hold a candle to the
    enormous profits Chris Donatelli made in Ward One from
    his association with Graham. From the Ellington on U Street, (just sold for $100,000,000) to the several lucrative developments on Irving Street (Graham even
    helped Chris close down a homeless shelter for one site)
    to the two projects on Georgia Ave. The common denominators in ALL of these projects is, 1.D C Govt owned the project sites; 2. All located above Metro Stations and, 3. Jim Graham. Not to mention the millions in tax breaks the District gave to Donatelli. A look at Jim's list of contributors to his various campaigns reveals, NUMEROUS hefty contributions from Chris, his wife, his workers, his partners, etc.And the Gragg Brothers were just used as a subtefuge Black face to look like there was minortiy participation.