Gig With White House Folks, Then Jail TimeApril 21, 2010 - 3:09 PM | by: Mike Levine
Three weeks after he and dozens of others, including top-ranking Obama administration officials, spoke in the nation’s capital about building a brighter future for Americans, 20-year-old Demarco Scott robbed an electronics store at gunpoint, according to local police and officials.
Scott, a Washington, D.C., resident, expressed regret to his victims as he robbed them, documents filed by police in federal court said.
The month before, he had been a “student presenter” during a conference aimed at tackling issues such as job creation and economic stability, transportation and infrastructure, and housing stabilization in cities and towns across the country.
Scott was asked to describe his experience with a new city-sponsored internship program, which places “underserved young adults” into five-month apprenticeships across Washington, and teaches them resume-writing and job-interviewing skills.
“It’s a pretty good program,” Scott said in a halting voice, at first sounding unsure of himself as he addressed a session of the National League of Cities’ 2010 Congressional City Conference. “We have a lot of young adults in the program, and it’s like the program is there to help to try to get people a career … to better their future.”
The conference, held over three days in the middle of March, featured mayors from across the country and several Obama administration officials, including White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
Around that same time, Scott was allegedly participating in a gun-wielding robbery spree across the nation’s capital.
Between March and April, he carried out armed robberies of a Subway sandwich shop, a liquor store and a carry-out restaurant, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
On April 8, shortly after noon, he entered a Game Stop electronics and video store in northeast Washington and pulled out a silver handgun, court documents said.
“You’ll know what this is,” he allegedly said, adding, “So you know I’m not playing.”
After two employees in the store handed him $564 in cash, he said, “I’m in a real bad jam, and I hope you don’t lose your jobs over this.”
The incident was captured on surveillance video.
Police in the neighborhood distributed a flyer featuring the suspect’s picture, and 11 days after the robbery Scott was arrested.
According to court documents, Scott admitted to robbing the Game Stop and the other locations in Washington.
“Scott explained that the reason he robbed the [Game Stop] was because his brother was in trouble and needed money,” according to a summary of the case filed in court by a local detective.
Scott has been charged with armed robbery, and he is currently being held without bond, pending a detention hearing set for May 4.
According to Scott’s own statements at the conference in Washington, trying to help someone in need is nothing new for him. But it’s unclear if doing so in a potentially criminal manner is new for him.
When Scott was accepted into the youth internship program, which is run by the D.C. government and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he was living in an independent living facility and serving one year’s probation for an unidentified offense, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Scott learned about the internship program through a social worker, and, with an interest in nursing, he was placed in the “recreation department” of a nursing home, he told conference attendees in a session titled “Putting People To Work.”
In fact, he said, he hopes for a long-term career in the nursing field.
“I kind of enjoyed working with the residents and the elderly people,” said Scott, who was paid $8.25 an hour for his work. “It’s just basically interacting with the residents at the nursing home and getting them to feel comfortable meeting new people, and basically feeling how it was when they were young.”
He said he also tried to help his unemployed friends by persuading them to apply for the internship program.
“Some people [have] never been on a job interview before,” he said. “[The program organizers] try to teach us how it is in the real world when you go to a job place. … The program is for career training, for our future, in the long run.”
But his friends missed the deadline to sign up, he said.
As for himself, he hoped the nursing home would officially hire him after the internship ended in late March. After all, he said, “Everybody likes me.”
Scott became a participant in the National League of Cities conference after being offered by an official with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office, which oversees the internship program, a spokesman for the National League of Cities said.
The spokesman declined to comment further.
An email and a phone call to a public defender representing Scott were not returned.
(To see video of Scott’s remarks at the National League of Cities conference, click here: http://www.nlctv.org/events/ccc2010/100313/default.cfm?id=12163&type=flv&test=0&live=0)