- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

NORFOLK — A schools administrator from Prince George’s County pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday to money laundering charges in connection with a multimillion-dollar narcotics ring.

Pamela Y. Hoffler-Riddick, 43, a regional assistant superintendent for Prince George’s County schools and a former teacher in the Hampton Roads area, is accused in court papers of depositing large sums of money into banks and credit unions.

Asked as she was leaving the courtroom yesterday whether she had any comment on the case, Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick responded, “I sure don’t.”

She entered her not guilty plea to five counts of money laundering. Each count carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $500,000 fine, said Deanna Warren, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick was among more than 30 people indicted on federal charges in connection with what authorities say was a drug distribution and money laundering ring based in Hampton Roads and extending to Texas and New York.

A court document said the ring handled more than $20 million worth of cocaine and marijuana between September 1996 and January 2005.

Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick was among several defendants in the case who were arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court. A month long trial was scheduled for July 19.

Law-enforcement officials said Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick had an association with John McBride, who also is charged with laundering money. Mr. McBride in 1997 became a financial adviser for Aaron Burton, who is suspected of being one of the key figures in the drug ring.

Mr. McBride enlisted Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick to take out loans for real estate and a vehicle for Mr. Burton, authorities said. The loans were repaid with proceeds from the drug trade, according to the indictment. Some of the money was pinpointed in an account in the Virginia Educators Credit Union.

The government charges do not suggest any public school funds were used in the illegal enterprise, Miss Warren said.

Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick, who has a doctoral degree from Virginia Tech, started teaching in Norfolk public schools in 1984 and later became one of the system’s youngest principals.

[Prince George’s County schools officials have told The Washington Times that they have placed Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick on leave and have filled her position with one of her subordinates, Yvonne Crawford, a regional executive director with the school system.]

The indictment said several men imported drugs from Mexico to Texas and distributed them throughout the East Coast.

Drugs were stashed in numerous locations in Hampton Roads, the indictment said.

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