Former D.C. Schools Employee and Business Owner Accused of Carrying Out Bid-Rigging Scheme
Schools Employee Allegedly Helped Steer Nearly $300,000 in Contracts to Her Friend
WASHINGTON – A former employee of the District of Columbia Public Schools and a business owner, her longtime friend, have been indicted on charges stemming from an alleged bid-rigging scheme involving contracts for administrative assistants valued at nearly $300,000.
The indictments were announced today by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.
Amber R. Crowder, 39, of Washington, D.C., the former schools employee, and Shauna Marie Brumfield, 39, of Sacramento, Calif., the business owner, were indicted on Oct. 10, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Both were indicted on five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of engaging in a money laundering conspiracy, three counts of money laundering, and one count of first-degree fraud. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds of the alleged crimes.
Crowder was arrested today in Washington, D.C., and Brumfield was arrested today in Sacramento. Crowder pled not guilty at her first appearance this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was released on personal recognizance pending further court proceedings. Brumfield is expected to make her first appearance later today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
According to the indictment, Crowder held various positions with the Office of Special Education (OSE), a part of the District of Columbia Public Schools. The charges involve the school system’s awarding of two contracts for administrative assistants to a company called A Simple Solution. Brumfield was identified as the firm’s registered agent and her residence, then in Northeast Washington, was listed as its principal place of business. According to the indictment, Crowder and Brumfield were close personal friends since childhood.
In the summer of 2012, according to the indictment, Crowder was tasked with identifying and recommending a company to provide temporary administrative assistants for the Office of Special Education to aid in the scheduling of meetings related to services being provided for special education students in the 2012-2013 school year. The indictment alleges that she took a series of steps to steer two administrative assistant contracts to A Simple Solution, including falsely representing during the selection process that A Simple Solution had staff with educational experience and specialized in providing staff to educational institutions throughout the United States when in fact it had no staff and had never performed any work.
The indictment also alleges that Brumfield used Crowder’s knowledge of the estimated cost of the project to submit a price quote for A Simple Solution. Additionally, the indictment alleges Brumfield used the alias “Marie Matthews” when communicating with the school system on behalf of A Simple Solution, and Crowder referred to “Marie Matthews” as the contact person for A Simple Solution, to conceal the fact that Crowder was recommending the awarding of the contracts to her close personal friend.
According to the indictment, from October 2012 until March 2014, the District of Columbia Public Schools mailed approximately $222,000 in checks to A Simple Solution. From January 2013 until August 2013, the indictment alleges, Brumfield transferred approximately $19,164 from the bank account for A Simple Solution to Crowder’s own bank account.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General are investigating the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Saler, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Lucas and Paralegal Specialists Jessica Mundi, Kristy Penny, Joshua Fein, and Aisha Keys.