Second in Seattle School scam goes on trial

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 28 at 7:14 PM

Prosecutors are pitting the two former friends against each other. David Johnson is charged with 36 counts of theft. His old friend Silas Potter has already pleaded guilty in the case.  Potter confessed to helping steal more than $250,000 from Seattle school children between 2007 and 2010.

“This is a case about greed and deception,” said deputy King County prosecutor Scott Peterson.
 
Potter worked for the Seattle School District. Prosecutors say he hired Johnson, and gave him lucrative contracts under a program to help minority businesses in exchange for financial kickbacks.

“It was gonna be a situation where we billed the district and split the money,” Potter said from the witness stand Monday. Prosecutors said the two bragged that they were bilking the department for work they weren't doing.

“They laughed about it and said things like, ‘I don't even know how to turn on a computer and I'm getting paid for computer classes,’” said Peterson.
 
Johnson's attorney, however, claimed it was all Potter. David Adler argued that Potter forged Johnson's signatures on contracts with the district. In a sense, the defense is  putting Potter on trial, again. Facing almost 6 years in prison after admitting guilt, the defense alleges Potter is testifying against his old friend in exchange for a lighter sentence.

“When the trial is over you will say this is a man no one can trust,” said Adler.
 
Potter was facing financial issues and trouble with the IRS when he started stealing the money in 2007. When asked by prosecutors on Monday why he did it, Potter simply replied, “I don't know.”

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