A Sept. 28 Metro article, about a former Prince George's County official who pleaded guilty to participating in a bribery scheme to help a security company win a county contract, failed to mention that Interior Systems Inc. contacted state investigators about the attempted bribery and cooperated with their inquiry. (Published 9/29/2005)
A former senior manager in the Prince George's County Department of Environmental Resources pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a $250,000 bribery scheme to help a security company win a county contract.
Robert L. Isom, 67, of Upper Marlboro, told Prince George's Circuit Court Judge Michael B. Whelan that he conspired with Robert L. Thomas, the former deputy director of the county's Office of Central Services, and others to demand and receive a bribe.
Thomas, who resigned in May, has not been charged with a crime. Court documents do not name other parties involved in the scheme.
"I don't have nothing to say, nothing," Isom said as he stood in the courthouse corridor with his wife and attorneys.
William Brennan, an attorney for Thomas, would not comment on Isom's plea or the allegations made against Thomas.
According to court documents, Isom, who received a salary of $95,303 in his county job before he was fired in May, was supposed to get $2,000 monthly for one year for his part in helping ADT/TYCO and its subcontractor, Interior Systems Inc., receive the contract.
Whelan scheduled Isom's sentencing for Jan. 26. Isom will receive a two-year sentence, with one year suspended, according to a plea agreement with the state. He will remain on probation for three years and be required to complete 800 hours of community service. He will pay a fine of up to $5,000.
State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh said the state's investigation is ongoing, and Isom has agreed to cooperate. Rohrbaugh refused to comment further.
The county sought bids in spring 2004 for security systems at two buildings, including the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.
ADT/TYCO submitted a proposal with Interior Systems, a District-based company, listed as its minority subcontractor.
In July 2004, a group of police officers assigned to review the proposals recommended Forney Enterprises, not ADT/TYCO, for the contract. A month or two later, however, according to court documents, three panel members were told that the proposals would be reevaluated, and that each firm would provide an oral presentation.
Pamela H. Piper, director of the Office of Central Services, which handles contracts, purchasing and the management of county buildings and vehicles, removed two members of the original review group and replaced them with Thomas and Floyd Holt, both deputy directors in her office.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Thomas M. "Mike" McDonough said during yesterday's 20-minute hearing that Isom approached an Interior Systems employee at a restaurant and told him that he could introduce him to Thomas, who could "help ISI's team get the contract." The same day, the trio met over drinks at another restaurant and talked about Interior Systems.
McDonough said the next day that Isom called the Interior Systems employee and asked, "Will ISI and ADT play?" The employee said they would "as long as they knew what the game was."
Isom said Thomas told him that he could control the award of the contract and that they should demand $250,000, requiring the company to pay $125,000 initially and the balance when the contract was awarded. Thomas said he would let Interior Systems recover its money by allowing changes to the contract, according to court records.
After Interior Systems officials told Isom and Thomas that they were concerned about making the large payments, Isom told them "there was room for negotiations." A deal was made, according to a phone conversation recorded by investigators, to pay the bribe in 12 monthly installments to a consulting firm.
The firm later was identified as Washington Business Management Consulting Group, a shell company with a post office box controlled by Thomas. Isom said he was promised $2,000 a month and told that "there were others who needed to be paid."
Interior Systems paid Washington Business Management Consulting Group $10,000 in a check drawn on a bank account set up by investigators, McDonough said. According to documents, an unnamed "third party" from the consulting company opened a bank account in the consulting company's name, and later the third party and Thomas withdrew $9,700. None of the money went to Isom.
In November, ADT/TYCO and Interior Systems were recommended by the new group to win the contract.