A former Library Board member has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of felony conflict of interest for failing to disclose his financial ties to a company hired to manage the Central Library expansion.
In addition to ending a grand jury investigation, David "Mark" Bowell's surprise plea, filed late Tuesday in Marion Superior Court, could aid the library in civil lawsuits to recover taxpayer money spent on the flawed Downtown library project, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said.
Bowell, 43, was among the board members who in 2002 voted unanimously to award a $5.4 million contract to coordinate work on the Central Library to a joint venture led by Turner Construction Co. of Indiana, a subsidiary of a New York-based firm. The contract later grew to $6.64 million.
Bowell was doing work with Turner at the time through a local marketing firm, Rosetta Advertising and Public Relations. Bowell helped Rosetta land Turner as a client around the time the construction company won the library contract.
Under the plea deal, Bowell, a business and marketing consultant, would receive a one-year suspended sentence. If accepted by a judge, the plea would conclude a criminal inquiry in which grand jurors have heard testimony from at least 20 witnesses since late July.
"Bowell knew that we were literally bringing in everyone and everything to prove his relationship with Turner was improper," Brizzi said. "Every penny that he made because of this conflict will be repaid to the library's capital projects fund."
Bowell, a Republican who served on the Library Board from 1996 to 2004, made $20,811.40 for his work with Turner.
I would draw your attention to the paragraph at the end of Corcoran's story. Corcoran writes:
Bowell's admission of an improper relationship could give library officials more ammunition. The library's attorney, Gregory F. Hahn, said the board would have an opportunity to discuss Bowell's plea before or during its monthly meeting Thursday.
That's interesting because it was Greg Hahn's law firm, Tabbert Hahn, which advised Bowell that his firm's business ties to Turner did not appear to be a conflict of interest when the issue was raised by another member of the Board, which is unfortunate for Bowell because his reliance on that opinion meant that he committed a Class D felony. Tabbert Hahn has billed the library board well in excess of a million dollars for its work as the library's counsel. The construction litigation associated with that work, in particular, has escalated the costs of their services.
Not mentioned in Corcoran's story is an item he had in his original report. Tabbert Hahn it seems hired one of the library board members, Gary Meyer, as a paid consultant for the firm on an unrelated matter. Does that not implicate the state's conflict of interest criminal statute similarly? Just asking. Also, does today's news have anything to do with the abrupt departure of Scott Treadway from Tabbert Hahn earlier this summer, which was an item that ran in the Star's "Behind Closed Doors" column awhile back? Treadway, who handled much of the construction litigation for the firm on behalf of the library board, has since joined Stewart & Irwin. Hahn is a lobbyist and major domo in Democratic political circles. His close ties to Mayor Bart Peterson helped land the library account for his law firm.
Now that Marion Co. Prosecutor Brizzi has proven to us that he can prosecute these types of crimes under existing state laws, he needs to get down to some serious work on a real investigation of the shenanigans that have taken place at 300 East in the Julia Carson Government Center.