- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2007

Andre J. Hornsby’s ex-girlfriend testified yesterday that she split a $20,000 commission with the former Prince George’s County schools executive as a kickback for awarding a $1 million technology contract to her employer in 2004.

Sienna Rochelle Owens, 29, cried at times during her testimony yesterday against Mr. Hornsby, who was her live-in boyfriend while he worked for the school system.

“He shouted at me,” Miss Owens said, describing the scene when she told Mr. Hornsby in the summer of 2006 that she planned to testify against him before a grand jury. “I thought he was looking out for me,” she said. “I told him I was going to tell the truth.”

Mr. Hornsby, 54, faces 16 mail and wire fraud charges, evidence tampering, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Miss Owens, a key witness in the case, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and agreed to testify against Mr. Hornsby. She faces up to three years in prison when she is sentenced after Mr. Hornsby’s trial.

Her testimony centered on a $20,000 commission she received in 2004 from LeapFrog Enterprises for a $956,280 contract with the Prince George’s schools. Miss Owens, who was employed by LeapFrog for $85,000 a year, testified that she gave $10,000 of the commission to Mr. Hornsby.

She detailed her difficulties withdrawing the $10,000 after she had deposited the $20,000 check. Miss Owens said she waited until the check cleared and made two withdrawals of $5,000 apiece.

She said she put the bills together and laid them on Mr. Hornsby’s bed in the Mitchellville, Md., house where they lived.

“I watched him,” she said. “He picked it up and went to the closet.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart A. Berman asked, “Did he object?”

“He did not,” Miss Owens said.

Mr. Hornsby’s attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, attempted to discredit Miss Owens.

“You also testified you never discussed the commission sharing with Dr. Hornsby?” Mr. Bonsib said. “It’s important for the prosecution for her to say that Hornsby knew about the commission.”

Miss Owens only appeared to look at Mr. Hornsby once yesterday, shortly after she took the witness stand and was asked to identify him. She pointed her right forefinger at him before turning away.

Miss Owens said she met Mr. Hornsby at a convention in 2001.

She said that they began a relationship and twice she moved to “be with Dr. Hornsby,” eventually moving in to his Mitchellville home. But as an FBI investigation into Mr. Hornsby intensified, Mr. Hornsby told her to “get out” and she moved to Georgetown.

Miss Owens is expected to continue testifying today.

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