Lottery subcontractor is former numbers man

May 18, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith

After prosecuting him off and on over the years for running an illegal numbers racket in Baltimore, the state of Maryland is about to welcome William L. "Little Willie" Adams into its own numbers game.

Mr. Adams would move into the legitimate numbers business as a subcontractor for GTECH Corp., the Rhode Island-based firm that recently was awarded a $64 million contract to supply master computers and sales terminals for the Lottery Agency.

A political ally and close friend of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Mr. Adams and WBS Inc., of which he is treasurer, would make more than $1.2 million a year handling the state Lottery Agency's printing needs. WBS was incorporated in 1990.

The company and several other politically influential businesses were recruited to perform aspects of the GTECH contract to satisfy GTECH's obligation under state law to involve firms run by minorities and women, businesses that historically have been left out.

Several of these companies, though, represent a wing of the Maryland political Establishment, one that helped to make Mr. Schaefer's political career.

GTECH has not yet taken over from Control Data. But already the company has made a highly visible appearance on the state's corporate and sporting scene.

Only this week, it contributed more than $100,000 to the Preakness celebration.

A copy of the proposal listing Mr. Adams and other minority contractors has been obtained by The Sun. It lists subcontract proposals for two other politically connected individuals:

* Beverly A. Wyatt, wife of Maurice R. Wyatt, patronage director for former Gov. Marvin Mandel. Mr. Mandel is now a lobbyist for GTECH. Consolidated Computer Investors Inc., owned by Mrs. Wyatt, according to the GTECH proposal, will provide "mini-computer" services to GTECH. As a woman, Mrs. Wyatt qualifies for minority contracts. Her fee, she said, will be a one-time sum of $55,000.

* Otis Warren Jr., an associate of Mr. Adams and Mr. Schaefer, who will attempt to find property or buildings for GTECH computer installations and houses for the company's employees. Warren said he anticipates fees of as much as $100,000, depending on how much work he does.

GTECH also said in the proposal that it will place its travel business with James H.McLean, husband of Baltimore City Councilwoman Jacqueline F. McLean, D-2nd. Mr. McLean's Four Seasons and Seven Winds Travel Agency is one of the largest in the Baltimore-Washington area.

GTECH's bid also included the promise of a $400,000 grant to the engineering school at Morgan State University, where members of the predominantly black student body had conducted sit-ins at the State House to demand improvements in dormitories, among other campus facilities.

Bruce C. Bereano, a GTECH lobbyist, said he thought that making a gift to Morgan could not hurt his client's chances in the computer sweepstakes.

"Part of my lobbying job was developing ideas and strategy. I was aware that the governor was very committed and concerned about the engineering school, about it being a focal point on Morgan's campus," Mr. Bereano said. He conveyed this information to GTECH, he said.

Officials at almost every level said last week they were unaware of Mr. Adams's involvement in the GTECH proposal.

Governor Schaefer was not aware of who GTECH selected as subcontractors, according to Page Boinest, one of his spokespersons.

"It's up to them to select their subcontractors. I made a point of staying out of the process," he said through Ms. Boinest. The governor also said, "I've known Willie as a fine businessman in Baltimore."

Budget Secretary Charles L. Benton Jr., who was directed by Mr. Schaefer to construct a special bidding process for the computer contract, said he knew nothing of Mr. Adams' involvement. The special process was ordered by the governor after several of his closest political allies and associates squared off against each other in the computer procurement battle between GTECH and Control Data Corp.

Mr. Benton said he has no concern about the involvement of Mr. Adams.

"The purported activities that Mr. Adams may have been involved with took place many years ago . . . I'm not in a position to sort it out. But I see nothing wrong in his being associated with the lottery," he said.

Mr. Benton said he also was not aware of the $400,000 gift to Morgan State University.

"I think that's very commendable of them," he said. "I don't think that was a factor in their selection."

State lottery officials also said they were unaware of Mr. Adams's proposed role in the lottery, though GTECH included his name on page 12-24 of its proposal in the section on minority business enterprise.

Michael Law, the Lottery Agency's procurement officer, said he was certain the agency's director, former deputy Baltimore police commissioner, William F. Rochford, would be interested to know. Mr. Rochford was out of town and unavailable for comment.

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