Basil Small, the former chief of procurement for D.C. General Hospital, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to accepting a $2,500 bribe in connection with a trash-hauling contract.
Small, 42, promised an undercover FBI agent, posing as a minority contractor, a one-month, $10,000 contract to haul the hospital's infectious wastes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert E. McDaniel said at the hearing.
Small also pledged to steer to the agent a follow-up, one-year contract worth $180,000 in return for a $30,000 payoff, McDaniel said.
Small could not be reached for comment yesterday, and his attorney, Lionel Richmond, refused to discuss the case.
Small met the agent twice in the bar of the Capital Hilton hotel. The agent had no office and no name for his company, but Small "was not suspicious of him," according to a source close to the investigation.
The source said that Small told the agent he would tailor the specifications so that only the agent would qualify for the contract.
McDaniel said Small "had all the confidence in the world that he was going to be able to put it together."
Small accepted an envelope containing $2,500 from the agent on Dec. 5 of last year, according to a criminal information that was filed in lieu of a grand jury indictment in the case.
In return for his guilty plea, the government agreed not to prosecute Small for any other offenses in connection with his work as the hospital's procurement chief or with his dealings with Kenilworth Trash Co. Inc.
Kenilworth Trash held the contract to haul the hospital's infectious wastes until December, when the firm's owner, Edmond Johnson, pleaded guilty to bribing a maintenance supervisor at the D.C. Department of Public Works for motor oil from the agency's warehouse.
Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $50,000.
Small, a Reston resident with no criminal record, was released yesterday on his personal recognizance, McDaniel said. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 28. Small faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A longtime hospital employe, he resigned from his $31,969-a-year post in December.
The hospital is planning to hire an outside firm to conduct an audit of its contracts to see "whether any wrongdoing was committed while he Small was employed at the hospital and whether there are any safeguards we can institute," said Leonard McCants, an attorney for the hospital's policy-making commission.
The infectious wastes contract, which had been set aside for minority bidders, is now being rebid in the open market, according to Penelope Anderson, a hospital spokeswoman.
Problems with the hauling of infectious wastes also surfaced in the Public Works Department in the last two months.
According to interviews with sanitation officials, former employes and clients, two private trash firms, including Kenilworth Trash Co., have used the D.C. government incinerator to burn infectious wastes from hospitals outside the District.
District law restricts use of the incinerator to wastes generated within the city in order to keep down the cost of running the facility and to reduce the risk of spreading disease from improperly handled material.