- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A local businessman who could be headed to federal prison after his conviction last year on racketeering charges has won more than $1.3 million in construction jobs from D.C. government in the past five weeks, city records show

The contracts are for a new parking lot at the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services training facility worth $205,772; the $471,950 renovation of a fire station in Southeast; and the repair of a senior citizens center in Ward 5 for $635,975.

The D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement lists the contractor on each of the three recently approved construction projects as D.C. businessman Olushola Akinleye of General Services Inc.

City officials awarded the contracts to Akinleye, despite the 43-year-old’s conviction last year in a real estate scheme that federal prosecutors said cost banks and city and federal housing programs more than $1 million.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Akinleye assumed the identity of a man named Dupe Ogunbamiyo, purportedly his uncle, then submitted false loan applications and appeared at closings with a fake driver’s license.

The scheme was part of a larger organized criminal enterprise to buy distressed or foreclosed properties at low prices before “flipping” them for fraudulently inflated prices, prosecutors say.

The illegal dealings, which took place during the late 1990s, involved Akinleye, a business he co-owned called ProTech Builders Inc., and four other persons, according to the 96-page federal indictment unsealed in 2002.

Last year, all five of the defendants indicted in the case were convicted. Akinleye and his company, ProTech, each were found guilty of bank fraud and racketeering. One defendant, Sunday Yemi Adefehinti, has been sent to federal prison for six years. Akinleye is still awaiting sentencing.

Less than a year after his conviction, Akinleye and his company landed more than $1.3 million worth of contracts from the District, according to documents obtained from the city contracting office.

Award notifications for three construction jobs listing Akinleye as the contractor and General Services Inc. as the business were announced from Aug. 23 to Sept. 15.

Reached by phone yesterday, Akinleye said the city contracting office should not have listed his name as the contractor for any of the recently approved construction projects — though he concedes he did sign the contract documents.

“I am not the owner, I only work for the company,” Akinleye said.

City business filings list Akinleye’s wife, Monreti, as president of General Services. According to contract records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Olushola Akinleye signed a document during contract negotiations with the city called a “certificate of eligibility.”

By signing the document, Akinleye stated that neither the company nor any “owner, partner director, principal investigator, project director, (or) auditor” associated with the company have been indicted or convicted in any matter involving fraud or official misconduct.

Akinleye, who was convicted of bank fraud and racketeering, listed his title on the document as director of contracts.

However, he downplayed his role in the company yesterday.

“I just work here,” he said. “I signed that [certificate of eligibility] because I am the one saying what the president [of the company] is saying to the government is true.”

“Just because I have the indictment doesn’t mean I should not work,” he said. “The government expects me to be working.”

City contracting officials said yesterday that they were investigating the matter in response to questions from The Washington Times.

“We’re in the process of pulling the contracts and various papers and documents,” said Janice Bolt, spokeswoman for the city contracting office. “This is a high priority.”

Akinleye said he would consider resubmitting the certificate of eligibility and other contract documents in the name of the president of General Services, his wife.

“If it’s necessary that we change that, then it should be changed,” Akinleye said.

Meanwhile, Akinleye’s attorney filed a motion in U.S. District Court to have the businessman declared a minor participant in the scheme, which would result in a less severe sentence.

The document states that Akinleye cooperated with investigators, implicated other defendants and did not know details about the majority of the conspiracy.

However, prosecutors disagreed, saying in separate legal filings that Akinleye “played a central role” and that he “received payments from the ill-gotten proceeds and funded certain illegal transactions.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide