D.C. bar inspector who abused power leaves government

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

Less than a month after the District's inspector general found that a supervisor for the city agency that regulates bars used his position to help friends get a table and free drinks at a crowded nightclub, that man is off the public payroll.

Investigators said in a report issued in April that they had substantiated claims that Jermaine Matthews, a supervisory investigator for the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, had acted improperly in his dealings with the Josephine Lounge last November.

"The supervisory investigator engaged in a course of conduct on Nov. 23, 2011, designed to obtain for his friends both a table and a comped bill at the nightclub," investigators wrote. "It is reasonable to conclude that the supervisory investigator thought that his presence would ensure that the bill would be comped."

Five fouls
The District's inspector general found that Jermaine Matthews, a supervisory investigator for the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration:
-- Used public office for private gain
-- Lost complete independence or impartiality
-- Adversely affected public confidence in the integrity of government
-- Accepted gifts from prohibited sources
-- Improperly used government property

ABRA Director Fred Moosally on Monday told The Washington Examiner that Matthews, who had been suspended while investigators probed the allegations, left the agency last week.

"He's no longer employed with the agency," said Moosally, who declined to say whether Matthews had resigned or been fired by the city.

Matthews could not be reached for comment.

District investigators found that Matthews used his city-issued cellphone to call the nightclub, located near the intersection of Vermont Avenue and K Street in Northwest, to seek a table for his friends last November.

That night, a table in the club's so-called "Gold Room" secured, Matthews' party received an estimated $1,280 in free alcohol.

Speaking to the inspector general's office, an unidentified waitress said Matthews was a club regular, one she had served about 10 times.

"[The] waitress ... added that it is common knowledge among nightclub staff that the supervisory investigator does not pay for anything and that nightclub management always comped his entire check," investigators said.

The nightclub's owner told investigators that the bar tries to accommodate government officials as a "courtesy," not because he expects favorable treatment from inspectors in return. He said the accommodations the club provided that night were limited to seating for Matthews' party and that Josephine had comped the alcohol for legitimate reasons.

When investigators confronted Matthews with the allegations, he initially denied contacting the club owner or attempting to make a reservation for his friends, according to the inspector general's office.

Ultimately, Matthews acknowledged that he had contacted the nightclub, but he said he did not expect his friends would receive freebies.

Investigators also found that Matthews falsified vehicle use records "to make it seem as if he had visited the nightclub on Nov. 23, 2011, for work-related purposes."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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