City Awards $13 Million Contract To Businessman Named in Pugh Indictment | WYPR

City Awards $13 Million Contract To Businessman Named in Pugh Indictment

Dec 11, 2019

Baltimore City Hall.
Credit PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates has awarded a $13 million contract to the company of a businessman connected to the “Healthy Holly” scandal.

At a meeting Wednesday morning, the board approved a noncompetitive contract worth more than $13 million for radio equipment under a long-standing master lease agreement with J.P. Grant’s financial services company, Grant Capital Management.

Grant was named in the federal indictment that brought down former Mayor Catherine Pugh and the office of the City Inspector General is reviewing a request from City Council President Brandon Scott to look into Grant’s business with the city.

Mayor Jack Young, Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow and City Solicitor Andre Davis voted to grant the contract. Scott and Comptroller Joan Pratt abstained from voting; both cited pending investigation.

“Citizens deserve to know that these contracts are being handed out in a legal fashion,” Scott said. “We need to rebuild this system from top to bottom.”

At his weekly news conference, Young said he voted for the contract after consulting with the city’s law, finance and police departments and learning that new radio equipment was badly needed. 

“They advised us on the importance of moving forward because we need to make sure our radios are in good working order,” Young said. 

Solicitor Davis said he is continually monitoring city contracts and any allegations of corruption.

“I don’t think the mayor or the council want to run city business on the basis of allegations,” Davis said.

In their indictment of Pugh, federal prosecutors alleged that Grant, who was doing business with the city, cut $164,000 worth of checks to Healthy Holly with the understanding that Pugh would funnel its proceeds into the purchase of her second home and her political campaign. Grant made those payments, prosecutors alleged, despite having already met the legal maximum individual contribution to Pugh’s 2016 primary and general election funds.

Grant has not been charged with any crimes. He could not be reached for comment. 

In April, Grant told the Baltimore Sun, saying that he wanted to be honest about his payments. He told the paper that he agreed to support what Pugh described as the distribution of books to schoolchildren and that he received no documentation of how his money was used.

His firm, based in Columbia, has long done business with the city. 

Grant Capital Management has held Baltimore’s master lease agreement since 2003. It has financed roughly $135 million in deals since, Baltimore’s Director of Finance Henry Raymond said on Wednesday.