Luxury Unit Allegedly for Soulsby
Former Police Chief's Friend Enters Guilty Pleas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 27, 1998; Page B01
A downtown Washington luxury apartment rented at a discount under fraudulent circumstances last year by a D.C. police lieutenant was "obtained primarily to serve as the residence" of then-Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby, according to law enforcement sources and documents filed in U.S. District Court.
In the documents, filed in connection with guilty pleas entered yesterday by now-retired lieutenant Jeffery S. Stowe, prosecutors offered more details of what they said was a scheme involving Stowe and "another person" to obtain the furnished, two-bedroom apartment at the Lansburgh complex for $650 a month, instead of the going rate of as much as $3,000. Sources close to the investigation said Soulsby is the individual referred to in the documents as "another person" and "the other person."
Soulsby, who could not be reached for comment last night, has acknowledged living in the apartment, but he has said he was unaware of the circumstances under which it was rented. He abruptly retired as chief in November after the arrangement was publicly revealed, but he has not been charged with a crime.
Although prosecutors said in court documents that "the other person" lived in the apartment, they did not say whether they believe "the other person" was aware that Stowe had obtained the apartment by fraudulently telling the building's management that it was to be used for an undercover police operation.
Stowe, who has agreed to cooperate in the investigation as part of a plea bargain, has promised "to provide full, complete and truthful testimony concerning what he and any other person(s) did in all phases of this matter and concerning events which may be relevant to other criminal investigations," according to the documents filed yesterday by the U.S. attorney's office for the District.
In an outline of evidence they have against Stowe, prosecutors also revealed that the apartment's telephone service was obtained in the "fictitious name of Kenneth Parker" and that some mail was received at the apartment in the name of Kenneth Parker.
Soulsby, who announced his retirement on the same day in November that Stowe was arrested, has acknowledged that he shared the apartment with Stowe and has said he paid his rent in cash. He has said he did not know about the reduced rent. He and Stowe, who retired shortly after his arrest in November, were longtime friends and golfing buddies.
Yesterday's court filing said: "The purpose of the scheme was for defendant Stowe and another person to obtain the use and privileges of a furnished apartment at the Lansburgh Apartments for a substantially reduced rent. The furnished apartment was obtained primarily to serve as the residence of that other person."
Stowe, who headed the department's special investigations section, declined to elaborate after his guilty plea. "I know you all have a lot of questions -- probably thousands of questions -- and I wish I could answer them," he told reporters.
He said he realized that "some of those questions concern other people that are in the [D.C. police department] and possibly others. Unfortunately, I cannot do that at this time. I wish I could. However, at the time of sentencing, I'll answer those questions."
Besides pleading guilty to wire fraud for lying to Lansburgh managers to obtain the rent discount, Stowe pleaded guilty to theft for embezzling $55,000 from the department and to two counts of extortion for demanding payoffs from two married men in return for not revealing that the men had visited a gay club in Southeast Washington.
In a loud, firm voice, Stowe, 42, answered numerous questions from U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan.
Under the deal, if Stowe cooperates fully and prosecutors persuade Hogan to grant a reduction in his sentence for "substantial assistance" in the investigation, the former police officer will be sentenced to 37 months to 46 months in prison. If he reneges on any part of the deal -- or if Hogan refuses to go along with the prosecutors' request -- Stowe will be sentenced to 51 months to 63 months in prison.
While judges always have the option of refusing to reduce a sentence in spite of a defendant's cooperation, Hogan stressed that even more with Stowe, making sure he understood that he is taking a chance.
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