San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown implicated in fraud and corruption case
KPFA Evening News, 02.19.2012
KPFA Weekend News Anchor David Landau: On Friday, after a jury delivered its verdict in a San Francisco Superior Court trial, Fog City Journal Editor Luke Thomas wrote that the minimal immediate consequences of the jury's verdict "belied the more politically significant accusations made through depositions in the case, that Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown overrode City staff to give contracts to a fraudulent yet politically connected company, GCSI." Marcus Armstrong, a former Department of Building Inspection Information Technology Manager, bilked the City out of at least $482,000 between 1999 and 2001. Witnesses testified that Brown and Lee had improperly certified an Armstrong accomplice, Government Computer Sales Inc., or GCSI, which fled and was never brought to justice. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Fog City Journal Editor and San Francisco Bay Guardian contributor Luke Thomas about his report on the case.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Luke Thomas, can you describe the evidence that General Computer Solutions Incorporated, or GCSI, the company alleged to have collaborated with Marcus Armstrong to bilk the City of San Francisco out of $482,00, between 1999 and 2001, was "politically connected" to former Mayor Willie Brown's administration?
Luke Thomas: Yes. According to deposition testimony by Deborah Vincent-James, the former executive director of the Committee on Information Technology, GCSI, the company that she described as "fraudulent from the start" and which had been rejected three times from being certified as a city vendor, was able to bypass the staff rejection because of its ties to former Mayor Willie Brown.
Following COIT's rejection of GCSI, GCSI hired Terry Goggin, an attorney and close confidant of then-Mayor Brown, to represent the company in its quest to be qualified as a master contractor. Vincent-James testified that then City Purchaser Ed Lee, told her to qualify GCSI for certification after Brown had directed Lee to undertake an alternate evaluation process, one that would ultimately bypass the standard checks and balances.
Luke Thomas: In his deposition, Mayor Lee said he could not recall the specifics surrounding GCSI's evaluation and certification and, due to time restrictions placed on attorneys at trial, Lee was not examined about his involvement.
Luke Thomas: It's hard to say. The case has certainly raised some eyebrows but it's my understanding that the statute of limitations may have passed.
KPFA: That was Fog City Journal Editor and San Francisco Bay Guardian contributor Luke Thomas, whose reports, including "Lackluster finish to case that made serious political charges" can be read on sfbg.com and fogcityjournal.com.