Originally published Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Figure in schools scandal ran escort services

One of three people charged with bilking $250,000 from Seattle Public Schools previously ran Seattle escort services that engaged in prostitution, according to court documents.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes It is not PC, but it appears that the School District was run by minorities for the... Read more
quotes I guess that gives new meaning to screwing the taxpayers. Read more
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One of three people charged with bilking $250,000 from Seattle Public Schools previously ran Seattle escort services that engaged in prostitution, according to court documents.

Lorrie Kay Sorensen, 45, pleaded guilty in 2005 in King County Superior Court to a reduced charge of attempted promoting prostitution after originally being accused of promoting prostitution. She was sentenced to 15 days of electronic home monitoring on the misdemeanor conviction.

In the school-district case, Sorensen, David A. Johnson and Silas Potter Jr., the former manager of the district's small-business program, were charged Tuesday with multiple counts of first-degree theft.

King County prosecutors said the three engaged in a scheme to steal money from the small-business program, using a Tacoma nonprofit and a Seattle cleaning company to bill the district for little or no work.

Potter, who now lives in Florida, is accused of approving payments since 2007 to the two entities in exchange for part of $250,000 they received.

No phone number could be found for Sorensen, who now lives in Henderson, Nev. She previously lived in Renton when Johnson was her boyfriend.

In 2005, Sorensen was charged with promoting prostitution between December 2003 and September 2004. At the time, prosecutors noted that she had previous arrests for prostitution in Vancouver, B.C., Washington state, Las Vegas and Honolulu, with convictions in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

Sorensen served as a manager and telephone operator for various escort services at an office in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, according to court documents.

Escorts interviewed by Seattle police reported that Sorensen told them to solicit tip money for sex acts, with a portion of the proceeds to go to the phone operators, managers and the businesses.

Sorensen routinely encouraged escorts to provide better sexual services for higher fees and tips, according to the documents.

Sorensen pleaded guilty to the reduced charge in June 2005, admitting she knowingly profited from the prostitution of another.

In the school-district case, prosecutors say, Sorensen learned Potter and Johnson were stealing from the district and asked to be included.

Johnson and his nonprofit, Grace of Mercy, were hired by Potter to teach small businesses how to bid on public projects. Grace of Mercy pocketed $168,000, with a portion kicked back to Potter, prosecutors said.

Sorensen and Johnson also set up a janitorial firm, Emerald City Cleaning, that collected $83,000 from the district, with Sorensen accused of keeping $21,000 and Potter and Johnson splitting the remainder.

All three have been summoned to appear in King County Superior Court on Nov. 8 for arraignment.

Potter left the district in July 2010, shortly after the district went to state auditors who eventually questioned $1.8 million in contracts awarded by the now-closed business program.

Seattle Times news researchers Miyoko Wolf and David Turim contributed. This story includes information from Times archives.

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