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Banneker chose not to add LaKritz Adler to the deal, the letter states, and the project moved forward with Banneker paying Metro $100,000 to reserve its option to develop the site while the parties continued to negotiate over the next several months.

In January 2009, Mr. Graham became chairman of the Metro board. In March that year, after Banneker secured an investment agreement with Bank of America, the Metro board extended the negotiation period pending outside appraisal of the deal by an independent contractor, the letter states.

In October 2009, the letter says, a meeting was held with Mr. Graham and his chief of staff and Mr. Karim and his chief financial officer. They met at Busboys and Poets on 14th Street Northwest. According to the letter, Mr. Graham said that Banneker “should not have bid on the project” and that he “won’t allow the sale of the parcels” where the project was to be developed.

Mr. Graham instead proposed a lease arrangement and again instructed Banneker to bring in a new joint-venture partner, this time to facilitate the lease.

With the terms revised to reflect the new lease arrangement, Metro staff submitted the package to the board for approval in November 2009, the letter states. After the board declined to act and further revisions to the deal were negotiated, including a requirement that Banneker pay additional funds to develop the site, Mr. Graham persuaded the Metro board to remove the project from its agenda in March 2010, the letter states.

Finally, on April 26, 2010, Banneker was informed that the Metro board had voted unanimously, “without explanation or rationale, to table indefinitely” any further consideration of Banneker’s terms, the letter states.

Through Mr. Karim’s attorney Brian McDaniel, who confirmed having been contacted by Bradley J. Bondi, a lawyer hired by Metro to investigate the matter, Mr. Karim said, “We are pleased that someone has been commissioned to look into the allegations related to the mishandling of the Metro contract. We look forward to a full and complete report from Mr. Bondi’s office.”

Mr. Williams declined to comment.

Reached by telephone, Mr. Binitie, who first delivered the Graham message, was dismissive: “I have no comment whatsoever on anything to do with Jim Graham or the [Metro] contract.”

In a recent interview, Mr. Graham insisted he had done nothing wrong.

“Some people lost out on a lot of money, and they think it’s because of me,” he told The Times. “But there’s nothing there. They lost out because of their own actions, not mine.”