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Prince George's Land Deals Lack Oversight

POSTED: 11:31 AM ET, 08/30/2008 by The Editors

Auditors have found that officials in Prince George's County, Maryland, have transferred millions of dollars in surplus public land to developers without the proper paper trails and often without competitive bids, good-faith deposits or accurate land appraisals.

The audit began as a Washington Post investigation was in progress into county land deals involving friends, business partners and campaign contributors of County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), who intervened in at least two of the transactions. Several recipients acquired the land at cut-rate prices or through no-bid contracts, county and other records show.

Johnson has denied involvement in the awarding of the deals and said the county's Redevelopment Authority operates independently. He declined to discuss the audit.

The audit found "inadequate documentation" for how the developers' proposals were evaluated. Fifty-seven percent of the properties reviewed--auditors looked at 25 contracts totaling 65 properties--were sold wihout a competitive bid process and 11 percent were under contract or sold without the approval of the authority's board.

"Breakdowns in key internal control activities can leave the authority vulnerable to fraudulent, abusive or questionable real estate activity," County Auditor David Van Dyke wrote in his report.

By The Editors |  August 30, 2008; 11:31 AM ET D.C. Region
Previous: Picks of the Week: L.A. Labor Deals, Doctors and Insurers, Missing EPA Safety Data | Next: Monegan to Palin: 'Ma'am, I Need to Keep You at Arm's Length'

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