- The Washington Times - Friday, November 5, 2004

BALTIMORE (AP) — The FBI and the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office have opened investigations into Prince George’s County schools Chief Executive Officer Andre J. Hornsby and his dealings with education vendors.

Representatives for the FBI and U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio declined to comment yesterday, but officials with knowledge of the investigation confirmed it. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality issues surrounding the inquiry, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Mr. Hornsby’s interactions with education companies are the subject of an inquiry by Maryland State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh.

Mr. Hornsby also is being investigated by the county school board’s ethics panel for the system’s purchase of nearly $1 million in software from a company that employs a woman with whom Mr. Hornsby lives.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the state prosecutor sometimes conduct separate investigations of the same matter, with one office eventually deferring to the other.

Mr. DiBiagio has prosecuted prominent cases such as those of former Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward Norris, who misused departmental funds, and Nathan Chapman Jr., who was sentenced this week on charges that included defrauding the state pension system.

Much of the spending under investigation in the Prince George’s school system involves federal funds, which gives jurisdiction to the U.S. attorney.

Mr. Hornsby presided over a $1 million purchase from the education software company LeapFrog SchoolHouse in June, without telling the school board that he was living with a saleswoman from the company.

Mr. Hornsby, 51, said through a spokeswoman that his relationship with Sienna Owens, 26, did not influence the sale, which used federal Title I funds and was for electronic literacy technology for low-income kindergarten students.

Miss Owens said she had nothing to do with the sale because her sales work is limited to Virginia. The Maryland saleswoman who the company said conducted the sale, Debora Adam, said she handled it herself and received the full commission for it, estimated at $40,000.

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