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Former D.C. Housing Authority chair Neil Albert resigns from downtown business group

Neil Albert in 2010. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)
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The leader of a downtown Washington business advocacy group who is under federal investigation resigned Thursday after the organization determined he had improperly granted contracts to a firm owned by a woman with whom he was having a relationship.

Neil Albert informed the DowntownDC Business Improvement District of his decision to depart after he was told that the organization’s board of directors would vote to dismiss him, said Gregory O’Dell, the board’s chair.

The BID also disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office relating to Albert and his involvement with Paola Moya, the owner of Moya Design Partners, a design firm that received contracts from the organization.

Albert did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

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His resignation is another setback for the 61-year-old former adviser to several mayors. In October, Albert resigned as chair of the board overseeing D.C. public housing after it was disclosed he had authorized contracts for Moya Design Partners.

Albert and Moya are in a relationship and own property together.

Prosecutors also have issued a subpoena for D.C. Housing Authority records pertaining to Albert and Moya.

In the case of the BID, the organization in October retained the law firm of Akin Gump to investigate Albert’s actions related to Moya. After a four-month investigation, the law firm concluded that Albert did not adhere to the BID’s conflict-of-interest policies when he authorized contracts for Moya’s firm, according to a BID statement Thursday.

Albert became chair of the D.C. Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners after Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) nominated him in 2017 and he was approved by the D.C. Council. He was reappointed in 2019.

O’Dell declined to discuss the subpoena or provide details about what the BID’s internal investigation of Albert had found. He also declined to itemize the work Moya had completed for the organization and how much she was paid.

The BID, in its statement, said Moya Design had completed all work for the organization “satisfactorily.” It also disclosed that Moya Design had paid rent to the BID comparable to other sublessees when it leased office space from the organization.

Speaking generally, O’Dell said there had been “some deficiency” in the BID’s oversight of the contracts, though he added that it was Albert who was “ultimately responsible” for upholding the organization’s conflict-of-interest policies.

O’Dell, who became the BID’s chair a year ago, said that he was aware that Albert and Moya “were in a relationship” a couple of years ago but that he did not know she had contracts with the organization.

“There were instances where certain board members were aware of her work but not their relationship, and there were board members who were aware of their relationship and not the work,” he said. “We could have had better oversight.”

Albert had been on paid leave from his BID post since Nov. 23. He took over the organization in 2015. In 2020, he earned $380,000, according to the BID’s tax returns.

O’Dell said the BID’s executive committee voted unanimously to recommend that the BID’s board terminate Albert after receiving the Akin Gump report. He said he telephoned Albert on Thursday to inform him of the recommendation.

Before the matter was taken up by the full board, Albert called back to announce his resignation, O’Dell said.

Gerren Price, the BID’s director of public-space operations, will serve as interim chief executive of the organization, which employs more than two dozen staff members. The BID plans to hire a management consulting firm “to update and strengthen procurement policies,” the organization said in its statement.