Former Seattle Public Schools manager Silas Potter faces 33 new felony theft charges for allegedly embezzling more than a quarter of a million dollars from the district.
King County Prosecutor's Office Deputy Chief of Staff Ian Goodhew says prosecutors brought the new charges because Potter has declined to plead guilty to the nine original felony theft charges. "Each of those counts are for additional checks that we believe were laundered through dummy companies from the Seattle Public School system for services that were not rendered or that they grossly overcharged for," Goodhew said.
The so-called dummy companies are Emerald City Cleaning and Grace of Mercy. The prosecution says Potter authorized $252,000 in fraudulent payments to those companies when he worked at Seattle Public Schools, then split the money with associates Lorrie Kay Sorenson and David A. Johnson.
Potter was head of two offices at the district, the Regional Small Business Development Program and the Small Works Roster Program, that awarded contracts to small businesses and non-profits.
Two state audits since 2011 found fraud and questionable contracts totaling $3.1 million. The scandal resulted in the firing of the superintendent and her financial chief.
Potter was solemn in at Friday's pretrial hearing, in a leather blazer and jeans. He didn’t speak.
Johnson faces the same charges, but failed to appear at today's hearing. The judge issued a bench warrant for Johnson’s arrest.
Potter and Johnson’s trial is scheduled for February. If convicted of all 35 counts of first-degree theft and seven counts of second-degree theft, they each face up to 10 years in prison.
Co-defendant Sorenson pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in June.