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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:
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Photo by Darrow Montgomery