Former D.C. deputy mayor Alphonse G. Hill told a contractor he took kickbacks from "all my contractors" because "I take my money -- my tips -- whenever I can get it," according to a government memorandum filed yesterday that recommends Hill be sentenced to "substantial incarceration."
The 71-page memorandum, filed in U.S. District Court here, gives the most detailed account yet of what federal prosecutors described as "not so subtle" extortion demands and flagrant favoritism by Hill to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars in District government work to selected firms.
The document tells of cash payoffs that were delivered to Hill in plain brown envelopes. It describes how he "set up and nurture(d)" an accounting firm on which he could "rely to help him out when he left government," and how he funneled the firm contracts, including some that had already been awarded another firm.
And it discloses that Hill repaid one contractor $63,000 -- in stacks of $100 bills that Hill apparently kept in his home -- shortly after the first newspaper reports revealed that Hill was under investigation by federal authorities.
"Hill did not merely fall into situations in which his will to resist compromising his offices was overwhelmed," Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Eisenberg and J. Ramsey Johnson said in the memorandum. "Indeed, he planned and schemed and cleverly manipulated matters so that contractors would pay for the award of government business."
Hill pleaded guilty May 22 to tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the government, two counts of an 11-count indictment returned in January in which Hill also was charged with four extortion counts, four other tax counts and one count of improperly filing a city financial disclosure statement.
U.S. District Judge William B. Bryant has set sentencing for Tuesday, and Hill faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Seymour Glanzer, Hill's attorney, said yesterday that he had not received a copy of the government's memorandum and would have no comment until he had read it.
Glanzer said he filed a memorandum yesterday on Hill's behalf, but it was not available for court officials and Glanzer declined to release the document publicly.
Hill, 48, became D.C. controller in August 1979 and was named deputy mayor for finance in January 1983, a post he held until resigning from the D.C. government in March 1986.
Within 18 months of joining the District government, Hill had obtained a contract worth nearly $80,000 for his longtime friend Milton C. Roberts and had told Roberts he expected an $18,500 kickback for the favor.
Six months later, Roberts had paid Hill the $18,500, always in cash "just as Mr. Hill requested" and always in envelopes delivered to Hill's Northwest Washington home, according to the documents. It was a pattern that would continue during the next four years as Roberts paid Hill a total of $63,000 for more than $250,000 in D.C. contracts, the memo states.
Curtis Hill, a graphics designer who is not related to Alphonse Hill, told investigators a similar story of contracts and demands and money delivered in small bills, according to the memorandum, which features the grand jury testimony of several contractors who were expected to be the key witnesses against Hill if the case had gone to trial.
The starkest descriptions of Hill's extortion efforts were given by Curtis Hill, who was found dead of natural causes in his home on April 17.
Curtis Hill said that after he submitted a contract proposal in December 1981 to design the District's 1981 financial report, Alphonse Hill suggested the expenses had been underestimated on the award and wrote a figure of $15,000 on a piece of paper.
Alphonse Hill then wrote $5,000, and said the total contract price should be raised to $20,000. Circling the $5,000 figure, Alphonse Hill said, "That's for me." And noticing Curtis Hill's startled look, Alphonse Hill added, "I do this with all my contractors."
According to the document, Alphonse Hill demanded that Curtis Hill pay $2,500 of the $5,000 kickback as soon as he received the first funds for his work. When Curtis Hill submitted his first invoice, Alphonse Hill had the check specially processed within three days and then arranged for Curtis Hill to pick it up, instead of having it mailed as usual.
On the same day, Curtis Hill said, he delivered a brown envelope containing $3,000 in small bills to Alphonse Hill in his office. Alphonse Hill put the envelope in his desk, according to the memo.
By the time the contract was completed, Curtis Hill had decided not to pay the remaining $2,000 bribe, and Alphonse Hill began calling Curtis Hill's home asking, "Where's the rest of the package?" Curtis Hill finally told Alphonse Hill to sue him if he wanted the rest of the money.
But Alphonse Hill's dealings with Curtis Hill were brief compared with his lengthy and complex arrangements with his old friends Milton Roberts and James Hill (also no relation).
Although Alphonse Hill had control over many of the contracts he steered to his friends, the memorandum states that one contract was obtained by Roberts through David E. Rivers, who at that time was head of the D.C. Department of Human Services.
It is the first time that Rivers, who went on leave as secretary of the District after he was linked to the separate ongoing probe on D.C. contracting, has been named in court documents in the Hill case.
While the memorandum details the payments to Alphonse Hill by Roberts and Curtis Hill, it raises many unanswered questions about Alphonse Hill's relationship with James Hill's accounting firm, Hill, Taylor.
The Washington office of the Hill, Taylor firm was opened in 1981 after Alphonse Hill pushed a former employe of his, Michael Smith, to join forces with James Hill to get minority set-aside contracts from the city. From then until the time Alphonse Hill left the government, he steered them contracts, got them short-term jobs to pay their rent, put James Hill up at his own house, and made frequent telephone calls and trips to see James Hill in Chicago.
Prosecutors identified only $3,000 that was definitely traced from James Hill to Alphonse Hill, but suggested that large amounts of cash Alphonse Hill apparently stashed at his house came from payoffs.
As part of the mystery of more payoffs, prosectors pointed to an incident in the spring of 1981, when a city employe saw Smith emerging from Alphonse Hill's city office, apparently just after the deal between the Hills and Smith had been struck.
The employe said Smith was smiling broadly and said something like, "We are all going to make money now!"