- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Federal authorities are seeking at least three years in prison for a former D.C. Office of Property Management executive who pleaded guilty in a scam to extort bribes from contractors with threats that he would blackball them from city contracts.

Narase Bob Oudit, 51, was supposed to be sentenced in federal court in the District earlier this month, but recent concerns about his health have prompted a delay in the criminal case.

Oudit, a former city engineer in charge of several city construction projects, should go to prison for at least 37 months for “sordid misuse of his office to extort city contractors,” federal prosecutors argued in a recent court memo.

“On the scale of corruption cases, this one is egregious,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard R. Sklamberg wrote. “The defendant did not make an isolated demand for a bribe — he demanded bribes day after day and month after month.”

Investigators recorded statements by Oudit to one contractor in which Oudit purportedly sought a contractor to pay him bribes through Oudit’s company, BT Contractors.

“Now don’t play hardball with me, alright?” Oudit said, according to court records. “Because I’m going to take it away. Then you’re all going to eat this.”

Mr. Sklamberg called for “stern punishment,” saying “these were not requests for a $50 bribe, but demands for bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

In one instance, Oudit received $13,500 in bills marked by the FBI from another contractor from whom he demanded $294,000 in exchange for keeping a project from going into default.

Oudit’s attorney is seeking probation for his client, whom he calls a devoted family man with no other run-ins with the law.

“Mr. Oudit, prior to this episode in his life, was a law-abiding family man with no prior involvement with the criminal justice system, whose wife and two children depend on him for emotional and financial support,” defense attorney Thomas Abbenante argued.

Oudit was supposed to be sentenced earlier this month, but the hearing was postponed amid concerns over an apparent cardiac condition. A letter from his doctor submitted in a recent defense pleading states that stress from being in prison would cause Oudit’s heart problems to worsen.

Mr. Sklamberg said Oudit could be incarcerated in a federal prison hospital.

“While the defendant’s medical conditions are serious ones, there is no indication they cannot be treated within the [U.S.] Bureau of Prisons,” he argued.

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