By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 17, 2005
A former education official in Prince George's and Montgomery counties has been convicted of money laundering in connection with a drug ring based in Virginia, a spokesman for federal prosecutors said yesterday.
Pamela Y. Hoffler-Riddick, 44, was found guilty of five counts of money laundering by a jury in Norfolk, said Frank R. Shults, chief of liaison for the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The verdict was announced late Friday afternoon after a two-week trial.
Hoffler-Riddick oversaw 39 Prince George's schools as a regional assistant superintendent at the time of her arrest in January. Now she faces imprisonment for her role in the financial dealings of a multi-state drug trafficking operation.
Each of the counts on which she was convicted carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, officials have said.
Prosecutors charged that she helped hide about $50,000 in proceeds from drug sales starting in the late 1990s. Hoffler-Riddick denied the charges and any knowledge of what prosecutors called a $20 million ring that dealt marijuana and cocaine in Virginia, Texas, Georgia and elsewhere.
Her attorney, Steven D. Goodwin, who is based in Richmond, could not be reached yesterday for comment. A message left on his office voice mail and an e-mail message were not immediately returned.
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, in the Hampton Roads area, reported that Hoffler-Riddick did not testify during the trial and that an ex-boyfriend named John Cecil McBride testified against her.
The newspaper also reported that Hoffler-Riddick faces another trial next month, on a charge of witness tampering.
"Money laundering is an essential part of drug trafficking," U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said yesterday in a statement relayed by Shults. "Both money launderers and drug traffickers must be held accountable for their criminal conduct."
In Prince George's, Hoffler-Riddick was hired by then-schools chief Andre J. Hornsby in August 2003. Her region spanned Capitol Heights, Suitland, Largo, Springdale and Forestville and included about 28,000 students -- more than are in entire school systems in many smaller counties.
Her arrest shocked her peers in the school system, many of whom praised her as a passionate, engaged educator of disadvantaged children. They also noted that she is a mother of two girls.
"We've been following the situation," Prince George's school spokesman John White said yesterday. "She served the system well. This came as a surprise to us when the issue arose."
Before coming to Prince George's, Hoffler-Riddick held administrative posts in Baltimore briefly, in Montgomery from 2000 to 2003 and in the Norfolk area. She began her teaching career in Norfolk in 1984.