Ex-D.C. worker charged again after conviction overturned

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

A former D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs worker whose bribery conviction was overturned by an appeals court has been hit with a new set of charges for the same conduct.

Ikela Marcea Dean had been found guilty in 2008 of one count of bribery and one count of extortion on allegations that she demanded cash in exchange for business licenses. She was sentenced to more than two years in prison.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled last year that her actions didn't amount to bribery or extortion because there was no quid pro quo arrangement.

"The evidence was that Dean received money from licensees under false pretenses and took money that belonged to her employer," Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote. "We do not know why the United States Attorneys' Office did not choose to seek an indictment for fraud or embezzlement."

Federal prosecutors have now charged Dean with theft of government property and fraud in the first degree.

Her defense attorney, Thomas Abbenante, said she will enter a plea of not guilty at her arraignment next month.

According to documents filed in federal court in D.C., the FBI began investigating Dean after receiving reports of a scheme to rip off license applicants. Dean allegedly told businesses they had to pay for the license with a check and falsely stated that a late fee had to be paid with cash.

Prosecutors said at the time that Dean successfully kept the cash in seven cases, but an eight applicant blew the whistle and went to the FBI.

Federal investigators built their case using recorded phone calls and videotaped meetings as she allegedly demanded $1,000 in cash from the chief engineer of a Omni Hotel in Northwest Washington before she would approve the licenses for 16 elevators, according to court documents.

Without the elevators licenses, documents said, the Omni Hotel would have difficulty servicing its customers who rely on the elevators to get to the 836 guest rooms of the 10-story hotel building.

The chief engineer gave Dean all of the paperwork, and a check for $2,736 for the licenses and $1,050 in cash belonging to the FBI as part of the undercover operation, documents said.

Dean returned with two receipts, both stamped "Paid" in red ink. The receipt for the check was marked with an official machine validation from the D.C. Office of Tax & Revenue, but the receipt for the "late fee" was not officially validated, documents said.

Prosecutors said she ran a similar scheme when the Omni representative sought a temporary licenses for a cigar and billiards bar and she demanded another $1,275 in "late fees."

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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