Sunday, August 13, 2006

More for the IG to probe: Abramoff school scam cost MCPS millions

The 1999 deal to provide crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cohorts with public school property for their private school has cost the Montgomery County Public Schools system millions of dollars, the Washington Post reports.

At the time, County Councilman Steve Silverman ripped critics of the deal as anti-semitic bigots in an effort to silence them.

The Post describes how the Abramoff group got a 20 acre piece of MCPS property in Wheaton for $1.75 million.

The catch was that the Yeshiva school would pay "millions more to renovate it" and remove an eyesore from the neighborhood. But according to the Post, MCPS took back the school "to ease overcrowding" after Yeshiva had made renovations.

MCPS then reimbursed Yeshiva for the renovation costs, spent another $12.4 million in further modifications, and provided another school site for Abramoff's private school.

At the center of the issue is Doug Duncan aide Jerry Pasternak, who coordinated campaign contributions through Abramoff to Duncan, and who hammered out the Yeshiva deal.

Looks like a Priority One subject of an Inspector General investigation.