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Ex-Bush aide admitted theft, documents say

Police: He got refunds for items not purchased

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- A former top White House aide who was arrested on a theft charge admitted to a store investigator that he fraudulently returned merchandise that he didn't buy, according to charging documents.

Police allege that Claude Allen, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bush, made fraudulent returns worth at least $5,000 at Target and other stores in the Washington suburbs 25 times .

Allen's lawyer, Mallon Snyder, has denied the charges, saying they are a result of problems with Allen's credit cards.

Target Corp. investigator Pete Schomburg said he stopped Allen on Jan. 2 outside the company's Gaithersburg store after Allen allegedly took items off the shelves and received a refund for them using a receipt from an earlier purchase.

''Allen had receipts from previous purchases at Target stores and admitted to Agent Schomburg that he was committing fraudulent returns," according to the charging documents filed March 7, two days before Allen was charged with theft and theft scheme.

Snyder said he did not have any comment on the charging documents, first reported yesterday by The Washington Post.

Allen, 45, is scheduled to go on trial April 27. Police initially charged Allen with a misdemeanor, but that was dropped Thursday when he appeared in court. Later that day, however, he was arrested and charged with theft and theft scheme over $500. Each count carries a possible prison sentence of 15 years.

Allen resigned in February from the $161,000-a-year job, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. The alleged crimes occurred while he was working at the White House.

White House officials said Allen notified Andrew H. Card Jr., the chief of staff, on Jan. 2, the night of the alleged incident, but told Card it was a misunderstanding. Bush was informed of the situation and Allen's planned departure in February. On Saturday, Bush said it would be ''deeply disappointing" if Allen had not told the White House the truth.

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