WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has intervened in a lawsuit against a Maryland resident for fraudulently charging a local adult soccer league to rent D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) athletic fields and then pocketing the money. The suit alleges that, between 2009 and 2013, Larry Washington and two of his companies took more than $120,000 in rental payments from the Washington International Soccer League (WISL), failing to remit any of the money to DCPS. The suit was originally brought by WISL under the whistleblower provisions of the District’s False Claims Act. OAG’s complaint in intervention seeks damages and penalties that could amount to more than $370,000.
“The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold Mr. Washington accountable for fraudulently pocketing funds that rightly belong to DCPS,” said AG Racine. “We are also warning others that cheating the District of Columbia will not be tolerated. I am thankful to the District’s Office of the Inspector General for their assistance in investigating this case.”
The District government, through its Department of General Services (DGS), offers rentals of DCPS athletic fields to the public. The fees are used to defray costs associated with the operation and maintenance of DCPS facilities. Outside groups requesting use a school’s sports fields must submit an application to the school principal for approval.
Starting in 2009, Larry Washington and two companies he controlled (Washington Sports Leagues, LLC and Sportsleagues, LLC) claimed to WISL and its commissioner, Delbert R. “Chip” Terrill, Jr., that Washington was a broker who had agreements to rent DCPS athletic fields to the league and other outside groups. However, Washington never had any such agreements with DCPS. Relying on the false representations, WISL paid rental fees of approximately $100 per hour to Washington and his companies for use of the fields, which included soccer fields at Dunbar High School, McKinley Technology High School, Coolidge High School, and Eastern High School. Washington and his companies never turned over any of the rental fees to DCPS. Washington continued accepting rental fees from WISL for use of DCPS fields into 2013.
In 2016, Terrill and WISL sued Washington and his companies under provisions of the District’s False Claims Act. These provisions permit private whistleblowers to sue on behalf of the District for making claims that defraud the government; they also allow the private individuals to share in any recoveries the District obtains through such a suit. The plaintiffs filed the suit under seal, permitting the District government time to investigate the allegations and to intervene in such lawsuits.
Based on its investigation of the allegations, OAG intervened, and a D.C. Superior Court judge has unsealed the case. OAG’s investigation found that Washington and his companies harmed the District by:
- Lying about having an agreement with DCPS to rent sports fields: Washington initially claimed to Terrill and WISL that he had entered into agreements with the athletic directors at Dunbar and Coolidge to rent their fields to third parties. He went on to claim that he had arrangements with DCPS that allowed him to broker fields at other schools. However, Washington had not entered into any contractual agreements with DCPS, and WISL participants sometimes found a field locked when they thought they had reserved it.
- Charging rental fees to the soccer league and pocketing the money without paying DCPS: From 2009 through 2013, WISL paid Washington and his companies approximately $120,000 to rent DCPS fields – but Washington never remitted any of the funds to DCPS. In 2013, a custodian at Eastern High School discovered that WISL teams had been using the school’s soccer field and informed the principal. However, neither the principal nor DGS had any records of an application or reservation for WISL to use the field. In fact, another organization had reserved use of the fields at the same time as the WISL teams. Terrill confronted Washington and demanded a refund and proof of valid use permits for the Eastern field and the field at Coolidge, which WISL had also paid to rent that year. Washington provided neither a refund nor proof of the permits.
Under the District’s False Claims Act, OAG may seek triple damages as well as penalties and costs. In this complaint, OAG seeks damages, penalties and costs that may exceed $370,000 in total.
OAG’s complaint in intervention in Terrill v. Washington is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-03/Washington-International-Soccer-League-Intervention-Complaint.pdf
If you are aware of a sports league or other group that has paid Larry Washington to rent a DCPS field, please contact OAG at 202-442-9828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.