March 11, 2006


Former Top Bush Aide Accused of Md. Thefts: Refund Scam Netted $5,000, Police Say (Ernesto Londoño and Michael A. Fletcher, 3/11/06, Washington Post)

Claude A. Allen, who resigned last month as President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, was arrested this week in Montgomery County for allegedly swindling Target and Hecht's stores out of more than $5,000 in a refund scheme, police said.

Allen, 45, of Gaithersburg, has been released on his own recognizance and is awaiting trial on two charges, felony theft scheme and theft over $500, said Lt. Eric Burnett, a police spokesman. Each charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. [...]

Allen, a former deputy secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, was nominated in 2003 to a federal appeals court seat. He was appointed the president's top domestic policy adviser last year at the start of Bush's second term. That made him the highest-ranking African American on the White House staff.

Working out of a small office on the second floor of the West Wing, Allen shaped administration policy on such issues as health care, space exploration, housing and education. [...]

This is what police said happened Jan. 2:

Employees at the Target store at 25 Grand Corner Ave. in Gaithersburg spotted Allen putting merchandise in a shopping bag. He then walked over to the guest services desk, produced a receipt and received a refund for the items.

After getting the refund, Allen left the store without paying for additional merchandise in his shopping cart.

A store employee stopped him, and police were called to the store. Officers issued a citation charging him with theft under $500 but did not arrest him. Court records show prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge, which is not unusual in cases in which detectives are considering filing more serious charges.

Detectives from the county's retail crime unit soon learned that the incident was not an isolated event, Burnett said.

He said investigators were able to document 25 fraudulent refunds for items including a Bose home theater system, stereo equipment, clothes, a photo printer and items worth as little as $2.50.

Allen would purchase an item, take it to his car, return to the store, select the same item, take it to the counter and get a refund based on the receipt for the merchandise in his car, Burnett said. "He would get the money back or the credit" on his credit cards.


Posted by Orrin Judd at March 11, 2006 7:33 AM

He's as bad as the chicago dems, getting caught nickle-and-diming.

If you're going to go, go big.

Posted by: Sandy P. at March 11, 2006 9:44 AM

Was he an affirmative action Bush appointment?

Posted by: erp at March 11, 2006 10:12 AM

No, just black.

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2006 10:32 AM

A friend of mine who teaches accounting and business says that the rule of thumb for any scheme, scam or embezzlement is that it should result in three times your annual income, or it's a bad risk. (And then you have to factor in the annual costs when quitting will ensure that you get caught.)

These are the sort of petty scams you come up with at the University, then try out a few times to prove to yourself and your friends that they work and that you are smart enough to scam the system. Then you realize just how stupid the risks are (the same with doing drugs) and clean up your act. Some people never seem to reach that second step.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 11, 2006 12:43 PM

Sounds like Sandy Berger finally has a Republican traveling partner...

Posted by: John at March 11, 2006 12:52 PM

Same with Agnew: pitiably small bribes, in his case. What's discouraging here is to see how little his integrity is worth.

Posted by: Arnold Williams at March 11, 2006 2:14 PM

Let's see: no honor, no shame, no fear of the Lord.

Yes, let's all kick back and discuss the economic cost of the chance of getting caught cheating and stealing. I suppose that is how Randians and other assorted libertines look at things.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 11, 2006 2:15 PM

Well, without honor or shame, all that's left is the economic cost of the chance of getting caught cheating and stealing, so why not play that up ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 3:33 PM

Lou, are you serious? Randians and other assorted libertines?

Posted by: erp at March 11, 2006 7:01 PM

His salary was apparently $161,000 a year.

Posted by: ZF at March 13, 2006 4:35 PM

turns out he might have been covering for his twin brother, who has had minor scrapes in the past.

Posted by: toe at March 14, 2006 6:35 PM


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