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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 11/18/2010

'House blessing' canceled after fraud conviction comes to light

By Tim Craig

The leaders of the Washington Interfaith Network have abruptly canceled a ceremony celebrating the D.C. Weatherization Initiative after it was discovered that a benefactor of the program had defrauded the federal government.

WIN had invited Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D), D.C. Council members and various other community leaders to a "house blessing event" Thursday night in the 600 block of Princeton Place NW.

The house, which city records indicate is owned by Duke Amir, is one of the first in the city to benefit from a new city program in which taxpayers pay to weatherize a house.

But word began circulating this afternoon that Amir was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2004 for preparing fraudulent income tax forms.

Amir, who formerly owned the D.C. Tax Preparation Center, "engaged in a scheme to defraud the United States and the Internal Revenue Service by preparing and filing false federal income tax returns for clients in the metropolitan D.C. area" from 1998 through 2000, according to a statement released at the time by the Department of Justice. In all, Amir defrauded the government of $204,000, according to the Justice Department.

Amir was not available for comment Thursday.

Martin Trimble, a lead organizer for WIN, said he notified Gray and other city leaders late Thursday afternoon that the house blessing had been canceled. Instead, officials planned to gather at a nearby recreation center.

"We are embarrassed and we don't condone this activity and clearly we have to apply tighter screens about who are in the program," Trimble said.

The weatherization program, a priority of WIN's, is overseen by the Deputy Mayor's Office for Planning and Economic Development and the Department of the Environment, Trimble said.

Designed to create jobs and reduce energy consumption, the city pays to install new insulation, windows, caulking and weather-proofing in the homes of qualified residents. In March, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and WIN officials announced plans to use the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund to pay to weatherize 2,000 to 4,000 homes.

A spokesman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) was not immediately available to comment.

In an interview, Amir said he understands WIN's decision to move the event from his house.

"I understand it and I have no problem with it," Amir said.

Amir said his criminal record never came up when he applied for the weatherization program. He said contractors put in new insulation in his attic, caulked the windows and gave him a new water heater, free of charge.

"My house was selected out of 50 to be done, so they did it," Amir said. "The program took care of the costs."

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Tim Craig  | November 18, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  City Life, Mayor Fenty, Tim Craig, Vincent C. Gray  
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Next: Gray to deliver live address on budget Monday

Comments

This is exactly the kind of program that needs to be cut. This guy owns a tax center, so he clearly has an income. But while the government is handing him money through the front door, he's stealing it out the back. If he needs a hot water heater, he should buy one. Now that's it's there, they should go in and tear it out. I don't want to pay for his when I'm trying to save up to replace the one in my house. How about we go with a "I'll pay for mine, you pay for yours" approach.

Posted by: justanotherguy | November 19, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

By the way, the Press Release announcing his conviction was released in January 2004 and is available on the Internet. That's when word began circulating - not yesterday afternoon.

Posted by: justanotherguy | November 19, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

@ Justanotherguy,

This program doesn't need to be cut; WIN was awarded this contract by Fenty as a form of payola for votes. WIN is the business of healing souls not homes and should have never been awarded this contract for weatherization. How many churches do you know that have weatherization businesses?

Justanotherguy, what needed to be cut, was cut on Nov 2 in the General Election.

Posted by: GoldCoast | November 19, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Friday, November 19, 2010

Federal Judge Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge
A federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, whose arrest on charges of buying drugs and his relationship with a stripper shocked the state's legal community, pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Camp resigned his position this morning, a condition of the plea deal.

Judge Jack T. Camp

Camp pleaded guilty to one felony, aiding and abetting a felon's possession of cocaine, a painkiller and marijuana.

He also pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors -- possession of illegal drugs and giving his government-issued laptop to the stripper.

Camp must serve at least 15 days in custody. Federal sentencing guidelines call for four to 10 months in prison. Camp will be sentenced March 4.

Camp, 67, entered his plea in Atlanta before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, a judge from Washington assigned the case.

On Thursday, Hogan disclosed Camp's decision to enter a guilty plea in an entry on the court's online docket sheet.

After Hogan recited the sordid details of Camp's relationship with the stripper, he asked Camp if the details were true.

Stammering, Camp apoligized, saying, "I regret ... I'm embarrassed ... it is your honor."

After the hearing concluded, Camp gave his wife, who was sitting on the front row behind him with other family members, a long embrace.

Camp, a member of a prominent Coweta County family, was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. He was serving as chief judge when he took senior status at the end of 2008.

Camp was arrested in early October, and a detailed affidavit by an FBI agent accused the judge of buying cocaine, marijuana and prescription painkillers.

The affidavit said Camp shared the drugs with an exotic dancer he met last spring at the Goldrush Showbar in Atlanta.

Camp, who is married, met the dancer when he purchased a private dance from her, the affidavit said.

He returned the next night and purchased another dance and sex from her, and the two then began a relationship that revolved around drug use and sex, according to court records.

The stripper began cooperating with the FBI, and on Oct. 1 she asked Camp to follow her to a drug deal to protect her. Camp agreed, saying, "I'll watch your back anytime. ... I not only have my little pistol, I've got my big pistol so, uh, we'll take care of any problems that come up," the affidavit said.

That evening, Camp and the stripper met in a grocery store parking lot and then drove to another location to meet the "dealer," who was an undercover law enforcement agent.

Minutes after the deal was consummated, FBI agents arrested Camp and recovered the drugs and two pistols from his car.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
MSNBC

JustAnotherGuy:

THIS IS FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN FILING FALSE INCOME TAX RETURNS !

WHERE IS THE PUBLIC OUTCRY ABOUT THIS GUN-WEILDING, DRUG ADDICT FEDERAL JUDGE !

Posted by: ellislawoffice | November 19, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

So, is Mr. Amir still defrauding the government, or did he serve his time and pay his penalty and has proven that he is following the law?

If the program precludes his participation because of his conviction, then whoever processed the paperwork made a doozy of a mistake.

If he is not precluded because of a previous conviction, then decide if the rules will change and change them.

Otherwise, he fit the criteria for the program, and that is the program organizer's fault.

Posted by: cfow1 | November 19, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

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