The former chief fiscal officer of the D.C. Department of Employment Services has been charged with two counts of fraud in connection with the purchase of more than $6,000 in electrical fixtures with city funds.
Crystal Willis is accused of participating in a scheme with two others, Dwayne Moore, the former chief of the department's support services unit, and Clarence B. Wade Jr., a private contractor hired by the department, to bill the department for electrical fixtures that were used in their homes and elsewhere, according to a two-count criminal information filed in federal court.
Willis is the first department official to be charged in a wide-ranging D.C. police-federal investigation into contract fraud and other possible violations within the Department of Employment Services.
A federal grand jury has heard testimony from several department employes and has subpoenaed department records involving at least four job-training-related contracts awarded by the department, according to department officials.
Willis and Moore were fired by the city in August after Mayor Marion Barry said District officials had found that they had purchased household items for their personal use with city funds.
Moore has not been charged in the criminal investigation.
David Fox, Willis' attorney, declined to comment yesterday except to say, "Crystal is a very minor person in all of this." He said Willis plans to move ahead with her life once her case is completed.
Generally, the U.S. attorney's office files a criminal information, rather than obtain a formal grand jury indictment, in cases in which an agreement has been reached on a defendant's plea.
Willis is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Richey on Monday.
She could receive up to eight years in prison and fines of nearly $20,000 if convicted of both charges.
The investigation was touched off with the arrest in July of Wade, who is charged with felony theft in connection with buying more than $1,000 in household goods with city funds to help furnish an apartment he shared with the sister of Matthew F. Shannon, director of the employment services department.
Shannon has declined to comment on the investigation.
The criminal information against Willis alleges that she, along with Wade and Moore, participated in a scheme to make illegal purchases from April 15 through June 30.
On May 15, according to the information, Willis and the two others billed to the department more than $6,000 worth of electrical fixtures bought from Maurice Electrical Supply Co. Inc., a D.C. business that had a purchasing agreement with the department.
According to prosecutors, Moore gave a Maurice sales person his work phone number to verify that the purchases were authorized, and on May 17, Willis authorized that a $4,351.64 department check be sent to the firm.