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Ex-ANC 1A chair pleads guilty to fraud, forgery

(Published June 5, 2000)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

Former Columbia Heights Advisory Neighborhood Commission Chairman Robert Tucker pleaded guilty June 2 to credit card fraud and forgery charges in federal court related to schemes in which he used his position as a commissioner to defraud merchants and a credit card company of over $30,000.

The Common Denominator reported last August that Tucker was being investigated by the D.C. Auditorís Office for having obtained a credit card in the ANCís name in January 1998 and charging more than $17,000 worth of merchandise on it. A copy of the April 1998 MBNA credit card bill showed charges at clothing stores, department stores, a hotel and a record store. Tucker also took out cash advances for nearly $4,500. He pleaded guilty to one charge of credit card fraud for these offenses.

In March 1998, Tucker sent a check to MBNA made out for $9,000. The check was drawn from ANC 1Aís checking account and Tucker forged the signature of the commissionís treasurer, Mack James, on the check. MBNA, however, was not able to cash the check because the ANCís checking account didnít have enough money to cover the check. Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of forgery for this incident.

Investigators also found that Tucker opened fraudulent commercial accounts in the commissionís name in November 1997 at Office Depot and Radio Shack. Over the next few months, Tucker bought over $4,000 worth of merchandise from Office Depot and over $8,000 of merchandise from Radio Shack using those accounts. None of those materials was ever used by or given to the commission, according to the U.S. Attorneyís Office.

Also, in September 1998, Tucker cashed two ANC checks at a Northwest Washington liquor store in his single-member district. Those checks, however, were invalid because the Internal Revenue Service had closed the ANCís checking account and Tucker had forged the signature of the ANCís treasurer on the check. Prosecutors entered this information into the record at Tuckerís plea hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Ellen S. Huvelle.

U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis and D.C. Inspector General Charles Maddox commended the investigative work of Special Agent Ed Martin of the inspector generalís office. They also commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen of the public corruption/government fraud section, who handled the investigation and the plea hearing.

Tucker faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 6.

Tucker is the second former ANC commissioner in a month to plead guilty to federal fraud charges.

Former ANC 5A treasurer Isaac Williams pleaded guilty May 3 to one count of interstate transportation of stolen securities for illegally diverting more than $8,800 of his ANCís funds. Williams is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 5.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator