Under fire, D.C. nonprofit agrees to improve group homes

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Facing the possibility of a court-ordered takeover of two of its facilities, a nonprofit group that operates a network of homes for the developmentally disabled in the District has reached an agreement to improve the quality of its care.

The settlement, announced Wednesday night by the District, caps a tumultuous month for Individual Development Inc., which has been under fire not only for deficiencies in care but for the unusually high salary paid to its politically connected chairman.

Under the terms of the agreement, an outside monitor will oversee IDI's compliance with the settlement and will have the authority to impose fines and to order the revocation of its licenses and certifications, the District said in a joint statement from the attorney general and IDI.

The District had gone to court this month seeking to have a receiver put in charge of IDI's homes on Edson Place NE and 53rd Street SE. But the city made clear that its concerns extended to IDI's entire network, and the agreement reached Wednesday will apply to all 11 of the organization's homes.

IDI houses about 70 people, many of them among the most medically fragile residents of group homes for the developmentally disabled. Last month a federal court monitor and the advocacy group University Legal Services went to city officials with concerns about persistent deficiencies in IDI's care and the death of three residents.

In its complaint, filed Oct. 5, the District not only catalogued problems at IDI's Edson Place and 53rd Street homes but also took aim at IDI's chairman and president, David W. Wilmot, a lawyer and lobbyist with deep ties to D.C. politics.

Wilmot, the District noted in its filing, is paid $300,000, and IDI's chief executive officer is paid $280,000. The salaries are unusually high for a nonprofit group such as IDI, which is funded solely from Medicaid. Wilmot has also borrowed $300,000 from the group, which is governed by a three-member board made up of Wilmot and two other politically connected lawyers, A. Scott Bolden and Frederick D. Cooke Jr. Wilmot has defended his pay, the loan and the performance of IDI.

Wednesday's agreement allows the IDI leaders to remain in control of the organization and its homes. But they will be under considerably more scrutiny. The agreement, which was not released, is to be filed as a consent decree, the District said. That means the court will retain a measure of oversight over the matter.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said the city and IDI had been in talks for the past three weeks, and he praised Wilmot, Cooke and Bolden for their "constructive engagement."

"IDI and its leadership came to the table with the District and hammered out a settlement agreement that requires IDI to improve performance or face severe sanctions," Nickles said in the statement.

In the same statement, Wilmot said it was in the best interests of both sides to settle the matter. "The real winners in resolving these issues are the individuals we serve and their families," he said.

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