In emails to federal officials, event planner-turned-government contractor Gregorio Palomino said his company had a 12-year relationship with the San Antonio Food Bank, a claim the nonprofit refutes, according to a new Express-News investigation.
The revelation comes months after Palomino’s San Antonio-based company, CRE8AD8, won a controversial $39 million contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmers to Families Food Box Program to distribute food to needy families.Eric Cooper, CEO and president of the Food Bank, told the Express-News that the first he had heard of CRE8AD8 was May 8, when the USDA announced that the company had received the contract.
“I had never heard of them, didn’t know who it was,” Cooper said in an interview with the newspaper.
The Express-News reports that Palomino contacted the Food Bank shortly after learning of the award, saying that his company had “selected the SAFB due to my relationship with you all over the last 12-plus years, as well as with former and current employees who know me personally.”
Cooper told the Express-News that his staff could find no record of a relationship between Palomino and the Food Bank.
“When you say you are a supporter, generally we define that as someone that is donating food and time through volunteerism or making a financial contribution, and we could not find that Greg Palomino had done any of those three things,” Cooper said.
However, Palomino told the Express-News that he had “written proof of contact and acknowledgment of communication, including time-stamp” from the Food Bank before CRE8AD8 submitted its proposal to the USDA.
Palomino also maintained that he has “taped recordings with the SAFB” in which Cooper acknowledges that communication between the two entities “existed before [CRE8AD8] submitted [its] proposal.”
The Express-News reports that Palomino didn’t provide any of the above-mentioned proof to the paper. However, the paper said CRE8AD8 has submitted “written proof of documentation” to a congressional panel conducting a probe of the USDA's food box program.
Palomino has been under a microscope since CRE8AD8 improbably landed its massive federal contract despite a lack of food-logistics experience. Media outlets have reported on the firm's history of questionable claims about past clients, alleged lack of licensing and its inability to deliver on terms of its deal with the USDA.
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