(Washington Post) — Former mayor Adrian M. Fenty did nothing wrong when his administration doled out city contracts for parks and recreational centers two years ago, according to the findings of an 18-month investigation made public Monday. But the probe found that two of the mayor’s close associates may have overcharged the city for work and had unexplained financial ties to each other and to subcontractors. The report, authorized by the D.C. Council and conducted by the law firm Trout Cacheris, recommends that U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. investigate the dealings of Omar Karim, whose Banneker Ventures won a bid to manage $87 million in contracts, and Sinclair Skinner, who co-owns an engineering firm, Liberty Engineering and Design, or LEAD, which received subcontracts handed out by Banneker.
“Multiple ties,” both personal and professional, existed between Karim and Skinner, but neither would answer detailed questions about the extent of their relationship, investigators said. LEAD, hired by Banneker to do surveying and engineering work, had to hire outside firms and employees to complete its work, the report found, marking up its cost significantly — as much as 400 percent for site surveys. When the council and its pro bono attorneys tried to unravel the controversy, Skinner and Karim were uncooperative. “The witnesses’ claimed failure of recollection was so extensive and so complete that it was unworthy of belief,” the report said. “Karim and Skinner essentially thwarted the investigation, and their performance left us with the clear impression that they believed they had something to hide.”