Former top Bush aide arrested for theft

President Bush’s Domestic Policy Advisor, who resigned last month with the standard "I want to spend more time with my family" excuse, is charged with trying to defraud two Washington stores in an elaborate refund scheme.

Reports Ernesto Londoño and Michael A. Fletcher in The 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 could not be reached for comment last night.

His attorney, Mallon Snyder, said last night that his client denies wrongdoing. The lawyer disputed the police account of Allen’s actions. "It’s his reputation. Obviously, he’s very concerned about it," Snyder said.

Snyder said he feels confident that Allen will be able to prove that the incidents were "a series of misunderstandings."

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.

He came to the attention of Montgomery police after a manager at a Gaithersburg Target store called the department about an incident Jan. 2. Montgomery detectives were able to document other alleged crimes from Oct. 29 to Jan. 2, some of which were captured on camera, Burnett said.

Allen resigned from the White House on Feb. 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family

In a statement that day, Bush said: "Claude is a good and compassionate man, and he has my deep respect and gratitude. I thank him for his many years of principled and dedicated service to our country."

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