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Contracts show Denver already paid hundreds of thousands related to Convention Center expansion

Denver council responds to corruption allegations at city hall
Posted at 7:14 PM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 21:14:37-05

DENVER -- A quarter billion-dollar project to overhaul Colorado's Convention Center has come to a halt, hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars have been wasted, and criminal charges aren't off the table.

Trammell Crow, the company at the center of the misconduct allegations, released a statement late Wednesday taking responsibility for what happened and said it terminated the employee who had improper communications with a bidder in the preliminary stages of the bidding process.

"We are mortified that this occurred," Trammell Crow's Denver Senior Managing Director Bill Mosher wrote in the statement. "In no way were the actions of the employee authorized by Trammell Crow Company."

"People go to jail for this kind of stuff, you know," said Denver City Councilwoman At-Large Deborah Ortega. "It's concerning."

Ortega said council members learned about the allegations when the news first came out Tuesday in a press release from the Mayor's office.

The Mayor's office said in the release they discovered a non-employee leaking information to a contractor bidding on the $233 million Colorado Convention Center expansion. An expansion to take advantage of the views by building a rooftop, along with other upgrades.

The alleged conduct lead to the city freezing the bidding process and terminating a $9 million contract with Trammell Crow, a prominent player in Denver development.

Denver7 went through more than a hundred pages of contracts related to the expansion project and uncovered the city first hired Trammell Crow to do pre-scope work for the project back in the summer of 2017. As a part of that initial contract, the city has already paid the company more than $200,000 in taxpayer funds.

"Two-hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money," said Ortega. "I guess I would rather be in a situation where we do that. As opposed to find we've gone so far down the road and spent millions and millions of dollars, and then learn about this egregious situation."

Ortega's questions now are: how did this happen? And what can the city do to make sure it never happens again?

"I don't know everything I need to know," she said. "I mean, there's probably more to this story than just what was in the press release provided to us."

Ortega said they are meeting with the Mayor and City Attorney's Office on Tuesday during an executive session to learn more about the alleged misconduct. The city also said it plans to take all legal action to recover damages and taxpayer funds already paid out.