D.C. Government Clerk Arrested on Drug Charges

A staff assistant in the Mayor's Office of Religious Affairs has been arrested after police say they found cocaine, crack and heroin inside his apartment in Southeast D.C.

Lorenzo Saunders, 51, was arrested Tuesday after U.S. Park Police raided his home on the 5300 block of C Street SE, about a mile southwest of the Capitol Heights Metro station.

A SWAT team and members of the Park Police narcotics unit knocked on Saunders' door about 6 a.m. Tuesday, charging documents say. When "entry was denied," the officers burst into the apartment using a sledgehammer. They found Saunders inside and began to search the home.

Officers found 123 grams of cocaine, nearly 11 grams of crack cocaine and nearly 1 gram of heroin, Park Police said. Officers also found $2,200 cash, a digital scale, the opiate-addiction drug suboxone and five cellphones, police said. Drugs were recovered from a toilet trap and in the pockets of clothing hanging in a closet, police said.

Sources tell News4 that Saunders is believed to have dealt drugs in front of his home, which is around the corner from an elementary school.

Saunders, who according to city records has worked for the District since 2012, was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

He appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty. Saunders' lawyer declined to comment on the case.

At the same time officers raided Saunders' apartment, another team searched his son Dominick's home in Temple Hills, Maryland. There, officers found a pistol and 8 grams of crack cocaine, police said.

Dominick Saunders told police he was responsible for everything they found in his father's home. charging documents for his father say.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said she does not know Sanders but that he will be held to a higher standard as a District staffer. 

"They're afforded due process but they also have a high obligation to reflect the public interest," she said.

Saunders was hired by the Gray administration in 2012, through Washington's transitional employment program Project Empowerment, his former supervisor, Steve Glaude, said. Officials knew Saunders had a criminal history related to drugs but said he had no history of violent crime and had exceed expectations on the job. 

"He was a model employee," Glaude said. "To say I'm shocked would be an understatement." 

Saunders was ordered held without bond and is due in court Friday. 

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