- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

Prince George’s County schools chief Andre J. Hornsby was worried about investigators tracking his moves, prompting him to check for government-marked vehicles tailing him and ordering the deletion of backup copies of his e-mail records, according to federal court documents unsealed yesterday.

For more nearly two years, Mr. Hornsby led Maryland’s second-largest school system, but his tenure ended last year amid a corruption scandal that resulted in a multiple-count indictment on corruption and obstruction of justice charges against him in August.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities yesterday unsealed an FBI search warrant affidavit in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt that says Mr. Hornsby expressed concern about being the target of a criminal probe, even while he continued to pocket kickback money.

On Dec. 20, 2004, for instance, the FBI videotaped a meeting between a confidential witness and Mr. Hornsby in a Bowie hotel room, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Hornsby showed up convinced that he was being followed and said that he made a mental note of the make, model and color of all of the cars he saw in the hotel parking lot, the FBI said.

During the same meeting, Mr. Hornsby also pocketed $1,000 in cash from a cooperating witness as talk turned to the superintendent’s work in arranging a contract, according to the FBI affidavit.

“As far as Dr. Hornsby is concerned, it is nothing more than a rehash of the indictment,” said Mr. Hornsby’s defense attorney, Robert Bonsib.

Mr. Bonsib added that his client is not guilty.

As press reports on the investigation emerged in November 2004, Mr. Hornsby instructed school system personnel to delete the backup copies of his e-mail records, the affidavit says.

Mr. Hornsby, was indicted Aug. 22 on seven counts of wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud, evidence tampering, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

He also was accused of taking kickbacks for his role in awarding a $1 million technology contract to a company that employed his girlfriend.

The affidavit includes portions of e-mails to Mr. Hornsby’s school system e-mail address from his then live-in girlfriend Sienna Owens, who was a sales representative for Leapfrog Enterprises Inc., which makes educational products for schools.

In one e-mail, Owens, whom investigators say profited from the Leapfrog contract, told Mr. Hornsby, “The deal is exactly what you think it is,” according to the FBI.

Owens pleaded guilty to a felony tax charge on Nov. 3 and is awaiting sentencing.

Mr. Hornsby, who earned $250,000 annually as schools chief, left the county in June 2005 with a $125,000 severance package.

The Prince George’s County public school system, which Mr. Hornsby ran from July 2003 to June 2005, has 135,000 students and an annual budget of more than $1 billion.

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