Alcohol board reversed policy to favor Brodsky friend

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Alcohol Chairman Charles Brodsky (left) with Washington Wholesale LLC attorney Emanuel Mpras at a Holloween party in October
Alcohol Chairman Charles Brodsky (left) with Washington Wholesale LLC attorney Emanuel Mpras at a Holloween party in October

The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board led by Chairman Charles Brodsky recently reversed a longstanding policy in favor of one distributor after a friend of Brodsky's took over as the distributor's attorney, according to documents obtained by The Georgetown Dish.

Brodsky has been charged with manipulating Board decisions to advance his private businesses, most recently by fellow Board member Mital Gandhi, who resigned this week amid charges of corruption by Brodsky.

All ABC board members signed the board's denial Dec. 1, 2010 of Washington Wholesale's longstanding request (Photo by: D.C. Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration) All ABC board members signed the board's denial Dec. 1, 2010 of Washington Wholesale's longstanding request
For years, distributor Washington Wholesale LLC, owned by national distributor Charmer Sunbelt Group, petitioned the ABC Board to allow alcohol storage at its suburban facilities. The request was repeatedly denied, due to D.C. laws that call for storage within the District's boundaries by all distributors.

But on Jan. 26, at a private session of the Board, Brodsky distributed a Jan. 21 letter from attorney Emanuel N. Mpras, Washington Wholesale's new attorney representative, and asked fellow Board members to reverse their decision, despite a restatement of the board's denial to Washington Wholesale just one month before.

A letter reiterating the request from Washington Wholesale's new attorney Emanuel Mpras was dated Jan. 21, 2011 (Photo by: D.C. Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration) A letter reiterating the request from Washington Wholesale's new attorney Emanuel Mpras was dated Jan. 21, 2011

According to Gandhi's complaint, Brodsky told Board members he was courting Washington Wholesale as a major sponsor of his business, The Nation's Triathlon, and viewed the distributor as a potentially significant supporter should Brodsky run for a seat on the D.C. Council.

The ABC Board announced its vote to reverse its policy Jan. 26, 2011 (Photo by: D.C. Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration) The ABC Board announced its vote to reverse its policy Jan. 26, 2011
Aside from the change in Washington Wholesale's legal representation -- from longtime attorney and D.C. Association of Beverage Alcohol Wholesalers President Paul Pascal to Brodsky's friend Mpras -- little changed in Washington Wholesale's petition between December and January. Pascal, who served as general counsel to Washington Wholesale until late January, said the request that the board suddenly accepted in January without public discussion "isn't that far different from the last proposal" that it rejected in December, according to The Washington Examiner.

Mpras, who with his father has a law office in Annandale focused on immigration and family law, held the title of "Vice President of Marketing" in a 2001 effort to bring a nude dancing club called "Scores" to the District, according to The Washington Post, and became friends with Brodsky in recent years. Mpras attended a birthday party for Brodsky last year, and Brodsky posted a picture of himself with Mpras on his Facebook page from a 2010 Halloween Party in Detroit.

Amid mounting ethics complaints against Brodsky, Mayor Vincent Gray has asked for an investigation by director of the Office of Boards and Commissions Ron Collins, who served as Gray's staff director at the Department of Human Services under Mayor Sharon Pratt. Collins has a law degree from Penn State and a BA from the University of Scranton, according to the Mayor's office.

But some question the ability of Collins' office to conduct a thorough investigation. "I'm just not aware that the Office of Boards and Commissions is properly staffed to do an investigation," said Councilmember Jack Evans. "If they forward the information to the Inspector General for a full investigation, that might make more sense in terms of a process," Evans said.

"It needs to be an independent, credible investigation," he added.

Brodsky has repeatedly denied any conflict issues presented by his businesses -- which frequently make requests of ANC Commissions and other District government entities -- and his role as Chairman of the District's alcohol regulatory authority. "I am very sensitive to matters that come before the Board and have recused myself out of an abundance of caution on those very few and rare occasions where there is a remote potential for overlap," Brodsky wrote in an e-mail published by The Georgetown Current.

But Brodsky's involvement with Washington Wholesale goes beyond his friendship with attorney Emanuel Mpras. Brodsky is pictured on the website of Washington Wholesale's parent company The Charmer Sunbelt Group's website participating in publicity efforts to promote responsible drinking. "Separating Community Relations from the sales and marketing components of its beverage alcohol business affords CSG the opportunity to develop these programs with the sole focus of promoting responsible drinking," the website says.

Alcohol chairman Charles Brodsky is pictured (bottom right) on the website of Washington Wholesale's parent company, the Charmer Sunbelt Group (Photo by: The Charmer Sunbelt Group) Alcohol chairman Charles Brodsky is pictured (bottom right) on the website of Washington Wholesale's parent company, the Charmer Sunbelt Group

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

It would seem much of your article raises serious questions. Why undermine your article, however, by suggesting there is some impropriety in an ABC Board Chair participating in activities to promote the responsible consumption of alcohol, whether those activities are sponsored by alcohol interests or others?

Anonymous

Why would Mr. Brodsky, an advocate of attracting ABC dollars to DC, advocate storing alcoholic beverages in Maryland? Unless Maryland has changed from storing in non-climate controlled warehousing, DC affords better storage, more conducive to quality.

Mr. Brodsky is supposed to represent DC but I fee this also feeds the appearance of impropriety. It has also caused a respected member of the Board to resign. Mr. Gandhi's quiet considered demeanor will be missed!

Mr Brodsky, viewed to be hostile toward DC citizen protestants, and an attorney, should be held to a higher standard. He would not be missed!

Anonymous

Brodsky is a business man. He brings business and revenue to DC. I'll bet if you look into the finances of The Nations Triathlon, you'll find they probably haven't turned much, if any profit since they began, but the Tri brings a lot of visitors and money into the district, as well as jobs, as would housing the beverages within the district. Mital Gandhi doesn't come to the table with clean hands. Do a quick search at www.dccourts.gov, court cases online and see for yourself. If mayor Gray asks Brodsky to resign it will smack of politics as usual, sour grapes and previous administration housecleaning, and do nothing for the greater good of the district. A true advocate for a community would encourage and embrace legitimate business and revenue, then funnel it into the education sector where, as everyone knows, DC lacks sorely.

To Anonymous

"I'll bet if you look into the finances of The Nations Triathlon, you'll find they probably haven't turned much, if any profit since they began."

Why would you bet that? Given the signup fees and the # of participants there is likely revenue in the millions. Considering the fact that Brodsky is in his 40's and making a paltry DC government salary, there has got to be other money coming in or he'd be living in a Glover Park group house.

Anonymous

If you do your research, Brodsky had other business endeavors prior to creating The Nations Triathlon. His finances come from being a prudent and well respected entrepreneur, having taken two large private companies public, successfully. While the fees for the Tri may be difficult for some to afford these days, the fees charged for permits, sanitation, extra security and staff, etc, not to mention insurances and whatever else i may be forgetting, you can bet the profit margin isn't what you'd look for in most investments or business endeavors. Brodsky has taken the Tri one step further and created Achieve Kids, a place for inner city kids to come for free to learn skills, teamwork and self esteem, and stay off the streets. Also, if you do your research, (its all public record) you'll see that Brodsky bought his residence back before real estate went insanely high and, like many single people with a large house, he has roomates who probably pay rent. I have no problem with people holding public servants accountable for their actions, as long as their gripes are legitimate and their research is thorough, and research is what I do for a living. Just saying, don't cast stones before you know all the facts.

To Anonymous

Chuck, er, "anonymous",
There is a difference between taking a company public and being a salesman at a company that goes public.

The Tatler

Jack is right about the ability of Ron Collins to conduct an investigation. that dude is part of the problem. he's been a wilson building insider forever from back in the day when he was chief of staff to HR Crawford. collins is now a real bigshot at the wilson building.

Richard Hogan

Again. Do your research. Blackboard.com. If you were a true entrepreneur or even had any business sense about you, you'd understand that any company without a sales department wouldn't do much business. Obviously, you have some personal issues with Brodsky which go deeper than politics. This is no place for a personal vendetta. Stick to the issues at hand.

Alfonso Ribeiro to Chuck

The issue at hand is alleged corruption. You're the one who claimed that Chuck Brodsky, a middle manager salesman, took Blackboard public. I'm just postulating here, but I could see someone suffering from that sort of delusion also convincing himself that it's okay to leverage a political position to benefit his business, so long as the business serves the public good.

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