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District Briefing

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

FEDERAL COURT

WASA Payroll Specialist Accused of Stealing

A 28-year-old Fort Washington woman has been charged with stealing more than $200,000 from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority during a three-year period.

Sonia R. Coleman, a former payroll specialist at WASA, was charged Friday in federal court with transportation of stolen money. Prosecutors accused her of manipulating WASA's payroll system to steal $236,256 from late 2004 through early last year. The stolen funds were deposited into one of Coleman's bank accounts and another one belonging to an unidentified person, according to charging documents.

Prosecutors said the pair used the money for "personal expenses."

Coleman's attorney, public defender Jonathan Jeffress, declined to comment.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

UNION STATION

Entrepreneur Offers Cash for Sob Stories

Hard-luck stories will garner some cold, hard cash this morning.

An anonymous man who calls himself "Bailout Bill" will set up a booth inside Union Station today and give away up to $50,000 in $50 increments to folks who give him their heart-wrenching recession stories.

The man is an Internet entrepreneur who pulled the same publicity stunt in New York this month as a way to promote his video classified ads site, BailoutBooth.com, according to his spokesman, Drew Tybus.

At the Times Square Bailout Booth, New Yorkers who waited in line for hours to tell stories of sick parents, layoffs and foreclosures walked away with cash.

The booth will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and people must be 18 or older and present a photo identification to get money, Tybus said.

-- Petula Dvorak

ENVIRONMENT

Grants Available for Solar and Wind Power

The D.C. government announced yesterday that residents, businesses, nonprofit organizations and private schools can apply for grants of as much as $33,000 to install equipment for making energy from the sun or the wind.

The program will provide as much as $2 million citywide, drawn from taxes on the use of electricity and gas. It will be parceled out based on the capacity of the renewable-energy system installed: an installation of solar panels large enough to produce 3,000 watts would qualify for $9,000 in assistance, at $3 per watt. Systems that can produce 3,000 to 10,000 watts will qualify for $2 in assistance per watt, and those that produce 10,000 to 17,000 watts will qualify for $1 per watt.

The program applies only to those installing solar- or wind-powered systems. In the future, the D.C. Department of the Environment said, it will offer grants for geothermal systems, those burning biomass and those relying on recovered methane.

For more information, and to download application materials, visit http://www.greenenergy.dc.gov.

-- David A. Fahrenthold

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