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How DC government fell for convicted fraudster's invention claims

Nov 10, 2023

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WASHINGTON — Scientists have long said: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Self-described inventor Lawrence Hardge claimed in a pitch to the DC Department of Public Works, he “picks up the electric torch where Thomas Edison left off.” In that pitch to DC Department of Public Works, Hardge claims he could nearly double the range of DC’s parking enforcement Chevy Bolt electric vehicles.

WUSA9 asked Hardge for a picture of his technology. He provided a picture showing a box with electrical wires, he describes as being around the size of a person’s fist.

Hardge said during an 30 minute recorded phone call with WUSA9: "I'm gonna describe it to you. Not only what I'm saying to you, not only did I describe it, I showed it, I proved it, and I tested it. Okay. So let me just lay it out to you. You drive a combustible engine, right? It has an alternator. Okay. Yes. The battery is only needed to start the car, correct? Once the car starts it's running off the alternator, right? If the alternator goes bad, then the battery won't recharge to start the car again. You cannot patent perpetual energy. I remember when we were kids, you had to buy something to put a little generator element that powered a light as long as the wheels were turning. I didn't do something that's so remarkable that they said okay, a NASA engineer, they couldn't figure it out, or this or that. What I created was simple. Nobody thought of it. I filed a patent on it, okay. What I created instead of having a combustible, alternator, I created an all-electric battery, and it is an energy management system. Basically what it is, sir, is the all-electric generator. I've taken the old battery energy, design a generator, where you see the box, my system is plugged in the box, which is an all-electric generator. And that's why I beat out everybody in the world."

We took Hardge’s claims to Paul Albertus, PhD, an electrical engineer at the University of Maryland: "So there's extensive research and development to develop new battery chemistries that are improvements on lithium ion that have a longer range. There's not technologies that I'm aware of that can really boost that same battery pack to significantly more than 200 mile range. There's a variety of limitations just from basic chemical theory. There's only so much energy you can store for the materials that you put into a battery, and there's a little bit of flexibility in that."

RELATED: Convicted felon gets DC contract to install car battery tech called impossible by experts

DC cancelled their contract with Hardge after WUSA9 started asking questions. The contract was for $680,000. We asked Hardge days after the contract cancellation about who he worked with at DC government to win the contract, and about a 2001 felony fraud conviction.

"I created a system that regens the battery and it takes the load off the batteries. That's why the Chevy Bolt, I picked the Chevy Bolt to solve the problem. It never overheated. It never had to be shut down. All this is in the testing report. The temps have never risen. Remember, they banned Chevy Bolt from being parked in a garage because they was afraid it would catch on fire and burn their cars that they also ask people to stop plugging their cars up in the garage at night in case it catches on fire. I took the Chevy Bolt and solved all those problems with, with my technology. So let's say this also, not only did the Washington DC government, vetted me how my record was clear. I gave them certified test reports that the technology works. They even drove the Chevy Bolt. It so happens, Washington DC had the exact same car."

RELATED: GM extends recall to cover all Chevy Bolts due to fire risk

When asked if Tim Fitzgerald, DC Department of Public Works Fleet Administrator, was the person who Hardge had been working the most with during the contract phase, Hardge replied, "Yes, yes. They drove the car. They didn't just hand me no contract. And it's kind of laughable. They tried to make the city look bad. Like they didn't do their job. They've done everything. They didn't just wake up one morning and hand me a contract. I mean, they vetted me, it took me months to get the contract with DC. And then they made an announcement. We've got a sole source contract, because nobody came forward and said they had anything similar to what I had. Everybody had an opportunity to put a bid in. Okay. So I got it legitimately. And all of that. Basically, DC walked away. They want to tell the truth. Because all the bad PR, just the bottom line. And I just felt like they should have spoken up. And they didn't. They didn't. Okay, I'm just going to tell it to you how I feel about it. I don't like it. You know, tell the truth. When y'all vetted me, my record was clear. Y'all had me draw up a proposal. I spent a lot of money with legal to do all of that. You get all the test results. You all did your reference check. But all these big companies who have been testing it, why didn't you tell the public that? Why didn't you, okay, they never done that. I mean, I've got hotel receipts. My team was out there every week. You know how expensive hotels are in DC. We had people out there, I pay for all of that. And I didn't get my one cent from the contract with DC."

WUSA9 worked to verify Hardge’s statement piece by piece.

First, Hardge claims that his felony record for illegally selling stocks in 2001 was expunged, or wiped, when entering into a contract with DC government. We obtained a judge’s order rescinding that expungement after allegations surfaced that Hardge used business investor’s money to repay the people he defrauded in 2001. It’s dated March 2022. The DC contract was awarded February 2023. Hardge was a felon convicted of business crimes during the DC contract and remains so.

Hardge responded, "But I'm gonna say this to you. All I want to do, I am, I've been an inventor, working on various technologies for over 40 years. Okay. I'm not out here scamming nobody, I have nothing to gain by that. And Nathan, you know, we live in a real world. As an African American, you have to be 300% better. I knew that. That's why I created something better. I'm proud of what I've done. Even if I had made a mistake 20 years ago, I never got in trouble prior. And I never been in any trouble since my release in 2006. So if I was a criminal doing something wrong, believe me, I'll be in trouble. I hear these allegations. None of it is proven. None of those are factual. Okay. Listen, I knew the industry was going to attack me when I invented what I invented. Only thing that I hate is people say one thing behind the table that they will protect me. And they had an opportunity to protect me. When the media come out and attacking me. And nobody stood up. Everybody wants me to be quiet."

Hardge added, "Washington, DC government, they're sitting quiet. At least you could have said regardless. I feel like you owe me something. Because I put a lot of money in this here with the expectation when I finished the Chevy Bolt that y'all had other vehicles that y'all wanted me to work on. Okay. Not just the car. Okay, well, you told me I completed there was other deals and other things y'all wanted me to do. You never spoke up. You never told the public that you just left me out there like I've done something wrong. When I had done my job, I paid tens of thousands of dollars for engineers to come down there and work, put them up in hotels, I've got receipts, they know it. Who was there for weeks, pay these guys that run the test on the cars and all of that Nobody says anything, just left me out there. So guess what? The best revenge is massive success. And guess what? They're gonna look up and they're gonna have to buy this technology from somebody else. Hardge is out of it, okay? Hardge is walking away from it. It's about to be sold. Completely gone. Let them regret it. Okay?

When asked who was going to buy his technology or his company, Hardge answered, "I'm not gonna discuss it. My lawyers already told you they were going to call you when they were ready. And so you're gonna look up in about a week or so."

Second, WUSA9 asked Hardge for the certified test results he claims reported his technology works. Paperwork he gave us show Hardge paid Element labs of Michigan to put his modified car through some mileage tests. But the lab came to no conclusion, writing “to be determined by Hardge Global Technologies, LLC.” Hardge provided no testing reports coming to an independent conclusion that agreed with his claims.

When asked about whether he had worked with General Motors, manufacturer of the Chevy Bolt, to interface his electric management module with the Bolt's on-board software, Hardge claimed, "Yeah, so you had to get permission. Okay. So that's what we did. And we got permission to do it, okay. If you don't get permission, you won't be able to get in. And that's why when we bought the Tesla, we couldn't do anything with the Tesla. Tesla has not given up any permission to go into software. Okay. Well, we did other things like the golf cart, and all, that that's like direct DC current. They don't have any hardware or software. But the Chevy Bolt, Porsche and all those things they have, they have their own data system. All we do is connect our system to theirs, where you are able to unlock it. So versus theirs, has a modular on it. And they won't let you charge the car pass 80%, when you unlock it, you able to charge the car to the full 100%. And whatever the mileage increase, it will show in the system, you got it. So if you get in 600 miles, it would show it, okay. That's why we go in and unlock the system. So because you can't make it up, okay. You can't trick the computer. You can't do none of that. Whatever it is, is real time. And even the experts, engineers they've seen it, they'll tell you. I mean, even the testing lab, they say we don't know what they've done, what he's done, but it works. It's in the report."

General Motors Senior Director for Corporate News Relations Kevin Kelley wrote WUSA9: "We have not been involved in this project and are not aware of this specific technology." He did not respond to our questions whether installation of Hardge's technology, even for testing purposes, would void the manufacturer's warranty for DC's Chevy Bolt fleet.

Hardge added, "Let me tell you something. A high school student can install the system, you don't require a degree, you have a high school diploma dropped out of high school, you can install the software. All the companies have the software. My invention is considered as an aftermarket product. Meaning that it doesn't, it doesn't affect the warranty on the vehicle, you follow me? We don't mess with none of their components. Okay. Just like in the Chevy Bolt, it already has software to tell you how many miles the car gets, it tells you how many kilowatts use all of that, okay? We don't mess with none of that. All we do is go in unlocking like a cell phone, you follow me?"

DC DPW declined an interview, and did not address Fleet Administrator Tim Fitzgerald’s role.

As for why the contract was cancelled, DC’s Office of Contracting and Procurement wrote, "Beginning May 26, DPW received media inquiries asking about: (1) the status of the contract with EV Technology, based on claims that the company was publicizing online; and (2) if the city was aware of Lawrence Hardge’s criminal record—not an expungement—when it entered into the contract. The nature of the company’s online claims did trigger the start of a contract review process by OCP and DPW. The expungement issue was first raised to DPW on June 19, when WUSA9 reporter Nathan Baca sent an email to the agency asking if DC was aware that Mr. Hardge’s expungement for felony fraud in Mississippi was rescinded and attached copies of the court orders. DPW reviewed this email before the end of the business day and forwarded it to their OCP representative the following morning, on June 20. As stewards of taxpayer resources charged with improving efficiencies and minimizing expenses, OCP and DPW will investigate new equipment. In doing so, the agencies not only conduct testing to determine if equipment meets our standards, but also evaluate whether the vendor is abiding by contract terms. The failure to meet those terms will result in contract termination. In late June, DPW and OCP completed their review process and determined that EV Technology was in violation of certain contract terms. The contract was thereafter terminated due to the unauthorized publication of information regarding the work to be performed and data collected under contract. It is important to note that the rescission of the expungement was not a factor in the contract termination. As a second-chance jurisdiction, the District of Columbia believes that a past criminal record should not preclude someone from gainful employment and business opportunities. OCP requests bidders and offerors to self-certify that they have not been convicted of a crime within the past five years. Mr. Hardge’s felony occurred 22 years ago, in 2001."

DC OCP did not go into further detail about how specifically Hardge violated their contract.

Meanwhile, after we aired our original story, Hardge’s former bankruptcy trustee sent us a letter he wrote to Michigan regulators in 2019 calling Hardge a “fraudster” who “defrauded investors $2,145,000.” Hardge denies any fraud, and claims that in weeks, he will be announcing a massive business deal, despite the collapse of the DC contract.

"What hurts me the most, it's not even about those contracts, because I'm worth way more than $5 million. I'm worth hundreds of the times that, is the young people. For Black History Month, they did stories on me, they looked up to me, all of that. And I felt like with all this stuff, you disappointed the young folks who believed in me, and they saw hope. And now they see in the person who they believed in, who they didn't find it hard to believe this man is what they put it out like this technology don't work, then you go get an expert, that don't even know how this system works, goes out, and says it's impossible. If he's basing it, I'm the very first person to tell you, you're not gonna get that out of a battery. So you got people out there, they're threatened by the technology. They make a lot of money off of charging stations. People got to stop and charge their car. Okay, that's number one. If you got to technology that is going to pass by those places, that means somebody's gonna lose a lot of money. You got a system that prolongs the life of the batteries in electric cars, that means you're not going to be selling a lot of batteries. Okay? So now you affect it. You affected that industry. And if you've got a system that doesn't require all these batteries now, then guess what, they can sell electric cars for a lesser price, because they're not paying all this money for the batteries. So if I was a company, already invested hundreds of millions, okay, which a lot of these companies out there are doing, you're out there, you're an investigator, already hundreds of millions of dollars to come up with something that a garage inventor, as they say, with a high school education, comes out and invents something that disrupts the industry. So if you do your homework and beat up on the Wright Brothers, taught them all kinds of this and that and now we got planes flying from one end of the country to the other. Okay, I'm no different. I come out of a garage. I created something. I love what I do. Nobody thought of it. We filed a patent on it, my lawyer. Why are they mad? I proved it. I knew I couldn't go out there and just say I got a battery that does this. With no proof. You got to have proof. How many more times they want me to test this thing over and over? And it never fails."

WUSA9 has been unable to verify that claim, nor any of Hardge’s other business or technology claims.

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