- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

A former business manager with the D.C. public school system has been indicted for her role in a series of deals in which federal prosecutors said tens of thousands of dollars was traded for contract work and phony invoices.

Lorelle S. Dance, who for years handled contracting duties for several D.C. elementary schools, faces felony bribery and conspiracy charges for giving preferential treatment to a Maryland contractor, prosecutors said.

She faces up to five years in prison under a conspiracy charge and up to 15 years for bribery under an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury earlier this week, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to the indictment, Miss Dance, who left the school system in 2003, steered work to two Maryland firms owned by former contractor Charles Wiggins, in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars, including monthly mortgage payments for her house.

One of the firms was a shell company called Motts Sales and Services. Investigators said the company was created solely to funnel money from the school system to Miss Dance and another unnamed individual.

Miss Dance used her government-issued purchasing card to sign off on more than $300,000 to Wiggins Telecommunications Inc., of Temple Hills, and more than $60,000 to Motts Sales and Services, prosecutors said.

In exchange, Wiggins paid Miss Dance nearly $40,000 from 2001 to 2003, charging documents show.

In many instances, the companies were paid even though they never performed the work, prosecutors said.

Wiggins pleaded guilty in federal court in the District in January. He faces up to 15 years in prison, but prosecutors say he will likely receive between 18 months to two years under federal sentencing guidelines.

Miss Dance worked for the school system from July 1995 to August 2003, schools spokeswoman Roxanne Evans said yesterday.

Miss Evans said the school system had no comment on the indictment.

Miss Dance could not be reached for comment yesterday. C and court records did not list her attorney or her phone number or address.

According to court records, prosecutors think the conspiracy involved Miss Dance, an unnamed school principal and Mr. Wiggins.

Prosecutors argue that Miss Dance’s job called for her to procure goods and services for elementary schools, including Moten, Rudolph, Ludlow-Taylor, Walker-Jones and Bunker Hill.

The questionable transactions occurred over a period of time when purchasing card abuse was a problem in other parts of the D.C. government and school system.

City workers misused government-issued credit cards, making hundreds of questionable purchases from May 2001 to April 2003, according to a government audit. The abuse prompted the temporary suspension of the District’s credit card program.

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