Friday, August 16, 2013

BlueWare CEO Turns Herself In

SANFORD, Florida -- BlueWare Chief Executive Officer Rose Harr, 55, turned herself in at the Seminole County jail at 12:09 p.m. today on an outstanding warrant in connection with bribery charges related to a multimillion dollar scanning contract involving former Brevard County Clerk of Court Mitch Needelman, 60, and his one-time business partner, lobbyist William Matthew Dupree, 47, who were arrested yesterday.


Harr was "charged with principal to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and principal to commit bid tampering," Seminole County Sheriff spokesperson Heather Smith said in an email.   Harr posted a $12,000 bond and was released at 2:53 p.m.  
   

"In April 2012, BlueWare assisted in drafting the invitation to negotiate (ITN) for Brevard County Clerk of Court for the scanning contract and subsequently responded to the ITN," Florida State Attorney Phil Archer alleged in a press release yesterday. "The ITN was posted on May 4, 2012, and records indicate questions from other bidders were sent to a county employee’s personal email account and then forwarded to Harr and Geaney to write responses. The responses were then emailed back to the bidders using the county email system. On May 23, 2012, a payment of $500,000 was wired to BlueWare even though the contract had not been signed. The actual contract was signed June 29, 2012, and on that day, the first monthly payment of $90,000 was sent to BlueWare."



Those specific issues were raised by Brevard Times in a July 2012 article titled Contract Controversy Taints Governor's Jobs Campaign:


"Before the May 3 Invitation to Negotiate was issued and a contract later awarded to BlueGem, Needelman had separately contracted on April 6 with yet another BlueWare-affiliated company, RoseWare, L.L.C., to "Review all outside vendor contracts on behalf of the Brevard County Clerk's Office."  


Whether RoseWare was quarantined from the digitizing contract formulation and negotiation process that ultimately ended in the award to affiliated BlueGem, or was actually paid for being involved in the process has yet to be revealed.  Florida Statute Section 287.057(17)(a) requires that a governmental agency avoid such conflicts of interest while subsection (b) bars a contract award if an unfair competitive advantage has been given to one vendor over another."


Matt Nye, a long time supporter of current Clerk of Court Scott Ellis who defeated Needelman last year, brought the contract irregularities to the attention of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which then began a year-long investigation into the bribery allegations that resulted in the arrests this week.


"FDLE has done an outstanding job on the case," said current Brevard Clerk of Court Scott Ellis who repeatedly raised these allegations during his 2012 campaign to defeat Needelman.  "We are mostly just relieved to see these actions brought to justice."