Witness says contract pushed by UMC chief seemed 'peculiar'

Clark County's chief financial officer testified Monday about how a contract being pushed by then-University Medical Center chief Lacy Thomas seemed "peculiar."

George Stevens was referring to a consulting contract for Frasier Systems, which already had collected on two consulting contracts before the third came in at $900,000.

The contract, which called for implementation for a project manager's office, seemed to overlap with some services that should have been covered in the second contract with the Chicago-based company, Stevens told the jury as Thomas' trial entered its second week.

And some of the work in the contract seemed like simple tasks that could have been handled by the hospital's own information technology department, he said.

The contract was withdrawn and cut in half before being approved by county commissioners.

Thomas faces charges of theft and misconduct by a public officer stemming from contracts UMC awarded to Frasier Systems and four other companies during his three-year tenure running the county's only public hospital.

Prosecutors contend that Thomas wanted to enrich friends and associates from Chicago with contracts that were unnecessary or duplicated services.

But Thomas' lawyer, Dan Albregts, says his client brought in his Chicago contacts because he had worked with them at a large county hospital there and trusted they could help solve the major problems at UMC.

Stevens also recalled an issue with a consulting contract with Crystal Communications to install a new hospital phone system.

After Thomas had approved an earlier consulting contract without going through the competitive bidding process, then-County Manager Thom Reilly told him all future consulting contracts had to be submitted for the proper proposal process, Stevens said.

Stephen Helvie, who handled UMC's proposal process at the time, recalled getting a proposal from Crystal Communications and being told they had to be paid.

"My impression was it was already done. It was a done deal," Helvie testified.

Helvie said he went "through the motions" of putting out the proposal, which included advertising it and taking bids.

Crystal Communications' proposal was originally for $145,550 but dropped to $132,780 after it went to bid. The company was eventually selected over a local company despite its final cost being about $50,000 more than the competing bid.

Also, the final contract for Crystal Communications was $146,961, about $14,000 more than the amount approved by the county commissioners.

Albregts suggested that Crystal Communications was selected over the local company because it had extensive experience installing phone systems in hospitals, which have unique needs and requirements.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.