The former director of a District job-training program was indicted in U.S. District Court yesterday on charges that he fraudulently obtained federal funds to bankroll private real estate ventures and pay for such personal expenses as credit card bills, limousine service, a speed-reading course and an attache case.
In a 31-count indictment, the grand jury also charged that Eric G. Sewell, 48, once the executive director of the D.C. Institute for Careers in Tourism, used $1,045 in federal funds to pay dues and bills at Washington's exclusive International Club and other funds to have tobacco and cigars delivered to him by a courier service.
The grand jury alleges that from September 1977 through August 1978 Sewell either embezzled or misapplied thousands of dollars in federal funds that had been obtained through the Comprehensive Employment Training Act.
That act, administered by the Labor Department, underwrites public service job-training programs for unemployed and poor persons. Sewell's tourism institute received the federal grant money through a contract with the D.C. Department of Manpower, the indictment said. The total grant for Sewell's program was $370,000, law enforcement officials said.
The institution and its related organizations were located at 1010 16th St. NW. Sewell's lawyer, Robert Watkins, said that he had not seen the indictment and had no comment.
The indictment also alleges that for a year-long period beginning in August 1977 Sewell made false statements to the manpower department on 14 occasions about people he said were employed by the institute who, in fact, were no longer working there. The grand jury also asserted that $615.36 in CETA funds was paid to two employes of one of Sewell's businesses who were not eligible to receive the money.
The indictment also alleges that Sewell used $2,265 in CETA funds for his private real estate investment business, known as T.W.D. Company, including $600 for advice from a venture capital firm about how to raise money for T.W.D.
Other CETA money allegedly misapplied by Sewell, according to the grand jury, included more than $300 for printing costs for one of his businesses, $600 for his own use and $1,546 for credit card bills with Diner's Club and Carte Blanche.