Howard L. Brooks, consultant to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, linked to lottery disputes
Thursday, March 10, 2011
A campaign consultant to Mayor Vincent C. Gray was involved in a bid to operate the District's lottery six years after a federal court found that he had overcharged the operator of Georgia's lottery more than $1 million.
The bid to operate the city's lucrative computerized lottery games, which ultimately failed, included the consultant, Howard L. Brooks, as an adviser, and Lorraine A. Green, chairwoman of Gray's mayoral campaign and transition, as a partner.
But allegations aired this week by former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown have resulted in new scrutiny of Brooks and Green and their relationships with Gray (D).
Brown told The Washington Post that he struck a deal with the Gray campaign to attack incumbent Adrian M. Fenty (D) on the hustings in return for a city job and that Brooks and Green, acting on the campaign's behalf, gave him cash payments during the race. The Post has not been able to independently verify any payments.
Brooks, who was paid $44,000 by Gray's campaign, is married to the sister of P. Leonard Manning, a businessman who partnered with Rhode Island-based GTECH to run the city's computerized lottery games from 1983 to 2010.
The Manning-GTECH group bid in 2007 to retain the contract, but the Office of the Chief Financial Officer ruled in favor of a competing offer, from a partnership involving Fenty allies and Intralot, a competitor of GTECH. But when the contract went to the D.C. Council for approval, Gray and several other members raised objections that led to a second round of bidding.
In the second round, GTECH partnered not with Manning but with a group of politically connected business figures: Green, an Amtrak executive who had served as executive director of the D.C. Lottery in the late 1980s; Darryl Wiggins, an entrepreneur with ties to Fenty; and Roderic L. Woodson, a prominent lawyer and lobbyist. But the group was unable to obtain minority business certification, and Intralot again prevailed.
The second time around, the GTECH team brought in Brooks as a consultant, Wiggins and Woodson said, because of his experience running lottery operations. But that experience was checkered, court records show.
A company owned by Brooks, Techmar Georgia, subcontracted with GTECH in 1995 to service state lottery terminals in western Georgia. But by 1998, GTECH noticed that its billings "far exceeded the amounts billed by . . . other subcontractors for the same services in other geographical territories," according to a court filing.
An "extensive forensic investigation," GTECH later told a judge, "ultimately demonstrated that . . . GTECH overpaid Techmar." After Techmar refused to let GTECH audit its books, GTECH canceled the agreement in 2002, and Brooks sued. GTECH countersued and prevailed in federal court, obtaining a judgment of $1.4 million, according to court records.
"This is a case in which GTECH . . . trusted and relied in good faith upon its subcontractor . . . to provide certain operational functions in support of the State of Georgia's Lottery, only to discover that Techmar systematically and fraudulently over-billed GTECH," an attorney wrote in a 2003 pleading.
Brooks and Green did not return calls for comment Wednesday.