Not guilty plea in wrong school case

April 27, 2011 at 8:58 PM

NORWALK, Conn., April 27 (UPI) -- A homeless woman facing 20 years in jail for illegally sending her son to a Norwalk, Conn., elementary school pleaded not guilty to larceny charges.

Tanya McDowell, 33, was arraigned Wednesday in state Superior Court on charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy, accused of costing Norwalk taxpayers more than $15,000 by allegedly using a fake address to enroll her son, A.J., in Brookside Elementary School while she and the boy were homeless, stamfordadvocate.com reported Wednesday.

McDowell said she and her son, who was 5 years old at the time, were homeless and staying with a friend in Norwalk when she enrolled him in the school system, WTIC-TV, Hartford, Conn., reported.

A prosecutor in the case, Suzanne Vieux, is the stepdaughter of Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia, who has publicly condemned McDowell -- who has a criminal past. She was convicted 10 years ago of robbing a bank in Trumbull, Conn., and was arrested in November for possession of marijuana and crack cocaine with intent to sell.

She has pleaded not guilty to those charges in a case that is still pending, stamfordadvocate.com said.

Defense attorneys Darnell Crosland and Michael Thomas told Judge Bruce Hudock they sought to transfer the high-profile case out of Norwalk in hopes of finding a more impartial jury.

Her next court date is May 11.

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