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FBI brings ex-ANC 5A treasurer to justice

Former Ward 5 GOP leader pleads guilty to $8,800 theft

(Published May 8, 2000)

By KATHRYN SINZINGER

Staff Writer

Isaac Williams, former treasurer of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5A, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 5 after he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to interstate transportation of stolen securities for illegally diverting more than $8,800 of the ANC’s funds.

Williams, 55, entered the negotiated plea May 3 before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and was released on his own recognizance pending his sentencing. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis. Williams, who also served as chairman of the Ward 5 Republican Party organization, is expected to be ordered to make restitution in the amount of $8,842.35 to ANC 5A as well.

Lewis commended members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Public Corruption Squad and praised the "outstanding investigative efforts" of FBI Special Agent Stephen Schmidt in tracking down Williams, who resigned his ANC seat in June 1998 and apparently moved to the Philadelphia area before his diversion of funds was revealed in a routine audit conducted by D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols.

The Common Denominator detailed the allegations against Williams in August 1999 after the audit report showed Williams misrepresented the recipients of 17 checks written between December 1997 and June 1998 in the quarterly treasurer’s reports he presented to his ANC colleagues for approval.

The checks were noted on the financial statements primarily as routine payments for utility bills and other office expenses, while the audit found the actual payees on the cancelled checks to include Williams, three hotels in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a Philadelphia woman named Cynthia Mason. Mason deposited nine ANC 5A checks totaling $4,275 to her personal bank account in Philadelphia, according to court documents. Williams also wrote an ANC check in the amount of $1,445.74 to Philadelphia’s Department of Revenue to pay the real estate taxes of a friend named Roberta Powell, court documents show.

ANC 5A-03 Commissioner Joseph Bowser, whose signature as then-chairman of the ANC appeared on 13 of the checks Williams fraudulently wrote, has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing related to the case, according to authorities. Bowser told the city auditor he sometimes signed blank ANC checks, which the auditor noted is a violation of D.C. law.

"He (Bowser) may have been negligent in his supervision of Mr. Williams, but it did not amount to criminal wrongdoing," said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney.

A written plea agreement signed by Williams on April 14 notes that his lack of a prior criminal record, coupled with his acceptance of responsibility for the crime, probably will result in a sentence of only six to 12 months under federal sentencing guidelines. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it will not oppose the possibility of Williams serving his sentence through home detention rather than imprisonment.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator