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Former Seattle Schools Official Silas Potter Pleads Guilty To Theft

KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

After his re-arrest on Saturday, former Seattle Public Schools official Silas Potter pleaded guilty Monday to 36 counts of theft for directing $168,275 in school district funds to a dummy company he controlled.

Potter was head of two offices at the district, the Regional Small Business Development Program and the Small Works Roster Program, that awarded contracts to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. But in 2011, state auditors found that two of the companies that received contracts from the district, Grace of Mercy and Emerald City Cleaning, performed little to no work, and that the money ended up with Potter and two associates.

Potter was arrested over the weekend after he failed to appear at a March 29 pretrial hearing. At that hearing Potter's attorney told the judge his client had also failed to appear at a plea hearing two days prior.

Potter pleaded guilty to 30 counts of first-degree theft and six counts of second-degree theft for the Grace of Mercy payments. King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe said six theft counts involving Emerald City Cleaning were dropped due to new evidence that the company had performed some work for the district.

Potter faces a sentence of 43 to 57 months in prison and must pay restitution. Potter's sentencing is scheduled for June 21 at the King County Courthouse.

Co-defendant David A. Johnson is set to stand trial on the same charges May 13. Potter's plea agreement says he will testify at the trial.

The third co-defendant, Lorrie Kay Sorenson, pleaded guilty last June to one count of first degree theft. She is due to be sentenced alongside Potter on June 21.

Year started with KUOW: 2008