The Washington Post

D.C. IG report finds faults in fire truck donation, two years later

An D.C. Inspector General investigation has concluded that deputies of former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty flouted procurement regulations, broke personnel rules and otherwise “failed to exercise proper oversight” of a process meant to send a fire truck and an ambulance to a poor seaside town in the Dominican Republic.

The report comes more than two years after questions were first raised about the District government’s donation of the emergency equipment. It mostly reiterates the findings of an earlier D.C. Council investigation, but the report offers new and pointed criticism of several officials — including Fenty’s development director, David Jannarone; his general counsel, Andrew ”Chip” Richardson; and Deputy Fire Chief Ronald Gill Jr.

During a 2009 trip to the town, Sosua, Gill and Jannarone improperly accepted meals, airport transportation and other gifts, the report found. And investigators said that during a subsequent investigation ordered by then-Attorney General Peter J. Nickles, Richardson failed to disclose his prior business relationship with Sinclair Skinner, a businessman and fraternity brother who also traveled to Sosua and played a key role in the donation. While Nickles’ probe found that the donation was “legal and totally proper,” but investigators said Nickles “should have been aware” that the lawyers he tasked with probing the donation, including Richardson, had done work on the transaction, creating a possible conflict of interest.

Also: City lawyers approved an “emergency” rulemaking necessary to make the donation to the nonprofit group Peaceoholics, which was in turn to send the trucks to Sosua, but investigators found that there was no proper emergency. They also found that city procurement administrator Robin Booth “knowingly” entered a false sale value for the fire truck on approval forms.

The fire truck and ambulance were eventually sold at auction for $9,050 and $5,350, respectively. The report recommends employment sanctions for Gill and Booth, who are still employed by the District, but notes that the District’s U.S. attorney’s office determined in November that there was “insufficient evidence for prosecution.”

The full report:

OIG Fire Truck Donation Report
Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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