Former D.C. Public Schools Business Manager Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes

WASHINGTON – Lorelle Dance, a former business manager for the Washington, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), pleaded guilty April 3 to accepting bribes from a contractor who performed work in elementary schools, announced United States Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein, Joseph Persichini, Jr., Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and D.C. Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby.

Dance, 42, entered her plea at a hearing in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia before the Honorable Judge John D. Bates. During the plea hearing, Dance admitted that she and a school principal not named in the indictment against Dance were involved in a conspiracy to accept bribe payments from the contractor, Charles Wiggins, in return for preferential treatment of Wiggins in obtaining work at various schools within DCPS. Dance faces up to 5 years in prison under the federal conspiracy statute when sentenced later this year, but likely will face 18 to 24 months of imprisonment under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

According to the government’s evidence, with which Dance agreed, between 2001 and 2003, Wiggins operated a business known as Wiggins Telecommunications out of his home in Maryland. Wiggins Telecommunications was a computer company which installed and maintained computers. Through his company, Wiggins sought and received work with DCPS. Two individuals with whom Wiggins dealt were employed by DCPS. One individual, Dance, was a business manager with DCPS and was responsible for buying goods and services for various elementary schools within the DCPS system, including Moten Elementary, Rudolph Elementary, Ludlow-Taylor Elementary, Walker-Jones Elementary, Hamilton Center, and Bunker Hill Elementary. Until December 31, 2002, a second individual (“Individual #1”), was employed by DCPS as a principal of one of the elementary schools within the DCPS system. Part of Individual #1’s responsibilities as a principal was to manage the use of government-issued DCPS purchase cards and approve requests for the purchase of goods and services by Dance.

Wiggins, through Wiggins Telecommunications, agreed to perform computer installation services for DCPS. Dance and Individual #1 were responsible, in their respective positions with DCPS, to approve work by the defendant and his companies, and to approve payments to him.

In the Fall of 2002, Wiggins also created a shell company, Motts Sales and Services, through which Wiggins fraudulently billed DCPS, at the instruction of Dance, for custodial and computer-related goods and services.

Between 2001 and 2003, Wiggins received, through Wiggins Telecommunications, more than $300,000 from DCPS in exchange for computer related work that he reportedly performed for the DCPS system. Between the Fall of 2002 and the Spring of 2003, Wiggins also received, through his shell company, Motts Sales and Service, more than $60,000 for services and goods allegedly provided to DCPS. During this same time period, Wiggins paid to Dance and Individual #1 approximately $49,332.47 in return for maintaining the defendant’s lucrative work arrangement with DCPS.

Wiggins, on January 4, 2006, pled guilty before Judge Bates to making these bribe payments to Dance and Individual #1. He is awaiting sentencing.

The investigation into this matter is ongoing.In announcing today’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Wainstein, Acting Assistant Director Persichini, and Inspector General Willoughby praised the hard work of FBI Special Agents Julie Lenkhart and Jared Wise, and Special Agent Bryan Chase of the Inspector General’s Office. They also acknowledged the efforts of Legal Assistants Teesha Tobias and April Peeler, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julieanne Himelstein and Daniel P. Butler, who are prosecuting this matter.

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