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November 24, 2014

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In UMC corruption case, shoe to drop soon

Grand jury looks into how no-bid contracts were awarded at public hospital

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Sam Morris

Former UMC chief Lacy Thomas.

Beyond the Sun

A Clark County grand jury is likely to decide today whether former University Medical Center boss Lacy Thomas will face corruption charges stemming from no-bid contracts he authorized at the hospital.

District Attorney David Roger said Monday he expects prosecutors to finish presenting their case today, though any indictment probably wouldn’t be made public until Wednesday.

If the grand jury indicts Thomas and others, it would be a major step in the 15-month probe at the county hospital. Though the investigation began in November 2006, Thomas has not been formally charged with a crime and has insisted he did nothing wrong.

Metro Police suspect that Thomas awarded lucrative UMC contracts in exchange for kickbacks. Some of those contracts involved businesses in Chicago, where Thomas was formerly chief financial officer of Cook County Hospital.

Sources familiar with the investigation told the Sun that in addition to Thomas, at least two others — Chicago businessman Martello Pollock and Las Vegas contractor Al Barber — have been served with documents informing them of an intent to seek an indictment against them.

In a document police submitted to the district attorney’s office in September, detectives allege that Pollock and another Chicagoan, Orlando Jones, developed a scheme in which Thomas traded UMC contracts for money deposited in a bank account created by his wife, sources familiar with the investigation said at the time.

Specifically, Thomas gave work to Crystal Communications, a Chicago company owned by Pollock, even though other companies offered to do the work for less money, according to an affidavit filed in January 2007. The work included a $132,780 contract, but no one police interviewed could point to any work that resulted from the contract.

Sources also said $5,000 went to a subsidiary of Orlando Jones & Associates, a lobbying firm. Jones and Thomas were friends, and Crystal Communications and Orlando Jones & Associates shared an office in Chicago.

In exchange for those contracts, sources said, Jones directed one of his clients, Chicago-based Family Guidance Centers Inc., to pay Thomas’ wife to open a drug rehabilitation clinic in Las Vegas. Although money was deposited in her account, the clinic never opened, sources said.

Less than a week after the accusations involving Jones became public, he killed himself.

Barber owns TBL Construction, a Las Vegas-based company that oversaw parts of an expansion project at UMC.

According to several former UMC employees interviewed by police, another company, Clark & Sullivan, had been hired as the general contractor on the project in 2004. Shortly after that, Thomas approached the hospital’s construction manager and said he didn’t think the project had enough minority subcontractors, even though several Hispanic subcontractors were working on the project, according to the January 2007 affidavit.

Thomas then arranged for Barber’s company to oversee an electrical company’s work on the project for $70,000, the affidavit said. That was arranged through a change order with Clark & Sullivan, which meant it wouldn’t go before county commissioners for approval.

Chris Caluya, a vice president of Clark & Sullivan, told police he thought the arrangement allowed TBL Construction to “oversee a qualified electrical company’s normal course of duties and then get paid for doing basically nothing.”

Caluya and others referred to the deal as a “kickback” during interviews with police.

Neither Barber nor Thomas’ attorney returned messages Monday from the Sun.

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