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Questionable qualifications

Half a dozen developers, whose projects won subsidies, were targeted with allegations of ethical lapses or troubled finances.

Fort Lincoln New Town Corp. and Metropolitan Development are lead developers for projects that won subsidies worth $10 million and $22 million, respectively. They each drew allegations of ethical shortcomings and lawsuits from their residents. Metropolitan could not be reached for comment and an attorney for Fort Lincoln declined to comment because the lawsuit is pending.

Several developers were castigated after financial or legal problems.

Neal Drobenare was admonished in 2002 by the Office of Campaign Finance for actions when he was a city employee who chaired a committee that grants housing development loans. He violated city rules on maintaining impartiality and preserving government integrity after he encouraged the brother of a woman he had dated to apply for a loan and helped "with significant input" in preparing the application, according to the Office's report. Drobenare resigned before the agency could punish him. Six years later, Drobenare's firm, NorthStar, was part of the development team that was granted an $835,000 tax break for an apartment complex in Northeast D.C. Drobenare could not be reached for comment.

Doug Jemal has a history of falling behind on property taxes but his projects are receiving more than $17 million dollars in tax breaks. Jemal was also convicted of wire fraud in 2006. Jemal could not be reached for comment.

Scott Nordheimer was convicted of real estate fraud, sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to repay a Seattle company in the early 1990s. Soon after, he co-founded Mid-City Urban, which is now called Urban Atlantic. Since then, the firm, based in Bethesda, has been on development teams scoring $63 million in subsidies. Nordheimer, now a "senior advisor" for the company, could not be reached for comment and Vicki Davis, the company's president, declined to comment. When Davis was asked earlier this year if Urban Atlantic discloses the information to the city, she wrote in an email: "We make public disclosure to all of our clients on our company and its employees."

Financial problems plagued Carl Williams before November 2010, when his entities – St. Paul Charities and St. Paul Community Development Corporation – received an annual property tax break of roughly $590,000. Several companies won judgments against Williams collectively worth more than $12 million. He could not be reached for comment.

-Julie Patel and Patrick Madden
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