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Former D.C. Official Sentenced

A former top D.C. government property manager was sentenced to home detention and probation for steering millions of dollars in contracts to two area companies in exchange for trips, watches, a plasma television, cowboy boots and cash.

Michael Lorusso, 44, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in 2004 for his role in a scheme that prosecutors alleged involved two area companies, one controlled by prominent developer Douglas Jemal. Lorusso, a former deputy director of the District's Office of Property Management, cooperated extensively with the government and testified at Jemal's trial in 2006 on bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges.

Jemal was acquitted of everything but wire fraud, a charge unrelated to Lorusso. The developer was sentenced to five years of probation by U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina.

Urbina cited Lorusso's cooperation as a reason he spared the former D.C. official prison time.

Between 2001 and 2003, prosecutors said, Lorusso accepted the gifts and cash from Douglas Development Corporation, Jemal's business, and International Builders Inc., which was owned by Fernando Villegas.

In exchange, prosecutors alleged, Lorusso had the District lease $100 million in office space from Douglas Development Corporation.

He also helped Villegas' firm by awarding it construction contracts, or "task orders," often without competitive bidding for a District in the 400 block of Fourth Street NW.

Federal prosecutors said Lorusso "approved loosely worded 'task orders' and approved invoices for payment to Mr. Villegas, in a fashion as to result in significant profits to Mr. Villegas."

Villegas, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay bribes, was sentenced to home detention and three years probation.

Del Quentin Wilber

By Marcia Davis  |  January 27, 2009; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety  
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