Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Supervisor of D.C. Water and Sewer Authority Pleads Guilty to Conflict of Interest Charge
Defendant Approved Permits Prepared by His Own Company
WASHINGTON – A supervisor with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority pled guilty today to a federal conflict-of-interest charge for approving permits for work applications prepared by his own private company, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.
Londra S. Watson, 53, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a felony charge of criminal conflict of interest. The charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Watson could face up to six months of incarceration and a fine. The Honorable Senior Judge Thomas F. Hogan scheduled sentencing for June 27, 2016.
According to the government’s evidence, Watson started work in 1981 for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (“D.C. Water”). At the time of the offenses, he was the agency’s supervisor of documents and permits. His responsibilities included, among other things, supervising the processing of permit applications from applicants seeking to alter and make modifications to existing plumbing connections from D.C. Water lines to existing structures.
In November of 2007, Watson started a company named Ardnol of DC LLC. Starting that month and continuing to February 2012, applicants seeking permits from D.C. Water provided checks totaling $141,066 to Watson’s company. In return, the firm was to assist them in preparing design plans, permit applications, plumbing plans, and utility plans, as well as D.C. Water “permit expediting” services. Many permit applicants were referred to Watson’s company by former clients who already had their permits approved by D.C. Water with the assistance of Ardnol of DC. Once an applicant contacted his company, Watson advised that he would draft the complete permit package, including the necessary site plans and diagrams, and assured the applicant that the permit application would comply with format requirements and protocols.
Once the applicant paid Ardnol of DC its required fee, Watson prepared the complete permit package and delivered it to the client. The client then submitted the permit application to D.C. Water for approval. In his official capacity as a supervisor in the permit office, Watson approved, directly or indirectly through his subordinates, applications and issued D.C. Water permits to a number of applicants who were clients of his company. He intentionally failed to disclose his financial interest in the company to D.C. Water.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Assistant Director in Charge Abbate, and Inspector General Lucas commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Kristy Penny, Legal Assistant Angela Lawrence, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lionel André and Michelle N. Bradford, who are prosecuting the case.