Loose Lips

IRS Agents Seize Files at Park Southern Housing Complex

The investigation into the management of the Park Southern housing complex took a step forward last week, when IRS agents showed up at the Ward 8 building to seize some of its financial records.

The IRS visit, first reported by NCB4's Tom Sherwood, came after the agency contacted the District's Department of Housing and Community Development and the building's current management company, Connecticut-based Vesta. Agents from the IRS Washington Field Office's criminal investigation division asked to see the building's financial records from 2003 to 2013, according to DHCD spokesman Marcus Williams, and took some of them after reviewing the files on Aug. 12.

While it's not clear what the IRS agents were looking for, Park Southern's catastrophic financials have amounted to the closest thing Democratic mayoral hopeful Muriel Bowser has to a scandal. Bowser supporter Rowena Joyce Scott ran the nonprofit that owns the building, while Bowser fundraiser Phinis Jones briefly managed it and has been trying to buy it for much less than its appraised value.

The District has been investigating how a $3 million loan to the building was spent, as well as the whereabouts of nearly $300,000 that Jones' company supposedly collected in rent. After the District seized the property over the unpaid loan, Bowser asked whether the city had the authority.

Chuck Moran, a vice president at Vesta, says he isn't sure which files the IRS agents took because they were in such disarray after the District seized the property. Vesta kept the records in a locked room after discovering them, according to Moran.

“There was no order, no reason to any of them," Moran says.

Despite this new sign of federal interest in the complex, though, Bowser is sticking by her refusal to investigate the situation through her D.C. Council committee, which covers housing issues. Bowser rival David Catania has called for a Council investigation, but Bowser campaign spokesman Joaquin McPeek tells LL that Bowser won't be joining him anytime soon.

"Unlike Mr. Catania, Councilmember Bowser has completely removed mayoral politics from the Park Southern issue, and instead, taken the appropriate measures to refer this to the independent Inspector General," McPeek writes in a email.

Bowser supports a request from the Office of the Attorney General for a judge to intervene in any sale of the complex, according to McPeek.

Update, 4 p.m.:  In the IRS summons provided by Vesta, agents requested a long list of documents, including payroll records, tax records, and church tithing records (Scott is a minister). The summons also requests documents related to a long list of organizations and people, including Jones, Scott, and two companies owned by Jones.

The document also asks for records related to the Ward 8 Democrats, which Scott once ran.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Contrary Mary

    Wow!Muriel BowWow hasn't even lost the general and the Feds are already all over her cronies like the proverbial cheap suit. At least she can rely on her gay brothers and sisters to rally to her defense. Oh, never mind.

    Carol Schwartz must really hate Catania to get mixed up with with this gang of rogues.

  • Feds are coming.

    drip drip drip

  • dcgovcorruption

    Once again the dc city council will neglect to perform the oversight into possible corruption while the feds have no problem carrying out their authority. Is chairman mendelson still in town? If so, you need to hold a fact finding oversight hearing before the us attorney does your job, since councilmember bowser does not like working.

  • Devils Advocate

    Do the majority of D.C. voters care about this or do they care more about the Michael Brown case being played over and over on CNN?

  • Ward Cleaver

    Muriel should observe that Fenty Sr is back in retail peddling footwear and Marshall Brown appears to be a busboy at Ben's.

    I heard that Phyllis Jones is with Catania. Stupid move David, as has been pointed out no one, well maybe Phyllis Jones, could have run anything as gawd awful as the Cropper campaign by accident. Make sure to water her, she is a plant.

  • http://Citypaper Ward 4 Resident

    It's funny how people believe the media on Vincent Gray and he haven't been charged with anything. But now you all letting this dumb Muriel Bowser tried to one the election.
    If she does when God help all of DC residents.

  • Gilland McGuire

    Much other tax exempt low income housing complexes need of investigations missing of tenant's financial statements, fraudulently calculated for court documents, to convection tenants of accused owe back rent.especially senior citizens complexes in the DC.,


    Uh, oh.......where is Bowser on Park Southern?

    Can we get statement..Bowser?

  • Ward8

    Take an Independent stance...vote integrity, accountability, responsiveness. VOTE CATANIA

    Question to Bowser...How dare you not address the concerns of the residents of Park Southern but hold a meeting to support the crooks that mismanaged the District's funds. How dare you know the truth and pretend you don't. I saw the video interview with WAMU and you tried to shift the truth.

    When Bowser lies she continuously blinks, rub her hair in the back on the left side, shuffle papers, takes long breaths as though she is tire of who is sitting in front of her, rocks in her chair, tighten her lips and rolls her eyes. She did all this during the interview at WAMU, when asked questions about Park Southern.

    I cannot believe the Dems don't see the hand writing on the wall, she does not give a damn about low income residents. She has no record of helping them believe me I have searched. She is only using Dems in ward 7 and 8 to win the election, a reliable source informed me she is already promising jobs once she wins. Did not Fenty learn his lesson. Wake up Dems EoR, we should send a message "we are tired of the same old pay to play". Take an Independent Stance.

  • lost cause

    sad part is that she had oversight of this issue the entire time and not only her but none of her staff did anything about this to help those poor residents. why you say...I say because of her close personal relationship to Phinis and Joyce those who stole the money and had families living in poverty even though HUD provided funding for a better way of life for them.

  • SayWhat

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/loudoun-board-rejects-openband-agreement/2011/11/03/gIQAxGzVvM_story.html, check out who is unethical. Oh David Catania and Benjamin Young, the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Mark

    Despite this new sign of federal interest in the complex, though, Bowser is sticking by her refusal to investigate the situation through her D.C. Council committee
    David is attempting to tie Muriel to this mess, and any hearings she called from her place as committee chair would only be further used by him in his effort to do so.
    Best the investigation is conducted by a third party, regardless of David's constant attempts to further politicize this.

  • well well well well well

    Does not look good for the Gray Administration.
    Under Fenty Park southern made 23 out of 35 mortgage payments.
    Under GRAY Park Southern made 6 out of 39 payments.
    The day after Gray lost the primary Park Southern received a default notice.
    Then the Gray administration inspected the building.
    One can only ASSume that if Gray had won the primary, the loan and the grossly neglected building would continue to be ignored by the GRAY ADMINISTRATION.
    None of this would have been exposed if Ron Machen had not shaken the Jeffrey Thompson tree


    @well well.......just continue your narrative..........

    ......Bowser has been Housing Committe Chair for 20 months and she has had ONE oversight meeting during that time.......Park Southern falls under her committee. Over $300k was collected by Scott and Phinis and none of it is accounted for.....but Scott and Phinis have contributed over $20k to Bowsers's campaign..... Scott and Phinis are operatives for Bowser's campaign.......Scott and Phinis submitted an offer to buy Park Southern the same day Bowser had a meeting with DC Housing Authority and Scott- the property manager of record......Bowser signed off on that deal...

    End of the day, Bowser is negligent in her duties with respect the residents of Park Southern and she is dishonest with the DC residents. Same old local democrat bullshit....Bowser has a lot of nerve calling Gray dishonest, she is filthy her self......

    DC needs honesty NOW!

  • well well well well well

    I agree totally with real dc.
    I am a ward four resident. Bowser has not even TRIED to achieve anything for ward four.
    Two walmarts distanced fifteen blocks apart. No consideration of Southeasts needs.
    If I was forced to choose between Gray and Bowser, I would choose Gray.
    The reason the other council members are not pushing for a hearing is because it might expose that they all knew for years about the conditions
    at Park Southern and opted to do nothing.
    If you watch witness testimonies at the council hearings, the council members say "Thank You For Your Testimony".
    Rarely or never do they act to address the problems.
    They get paid to hold no result hearings and accept bribes to get re-elected.

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