Ex-employee on trial for drugs, guns

The trial of a former GW counselor facing drug and gun charges this week was peppered with colorful testimony, much of which detailed an extensive history of drug abuse and allegations that he dealt drugs from his apartment adjacent to campus.

Lawrence Cannaday, 52, worked as a counselor in the Multicultural Student Services Center from 1994 to 2006. In August 2008, a DEA and MPD raid of Cannaday’s apartment on 21st and F streets uncovered two guns, cocaine, marijuana, an electronic money counter, four digital scales and an array of drug paraphernalia and distribution supplies, according to court documents.

Cannaday is facing eight charges, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in a school zone and unlawful possession of firearms. The main portion of the trial ended on Wednesday, and the 12-person jury will begin to deliberate on Thursday morning.

In his testimony on Wednesday, Cannaday said he was an addict – using cocaine 15 to 20 times a day – but not a drug dealer. He admitted he used cocaine while hosting students in his apartment on several occasions.

“Unfortunately, I am ashamed to say that I have done that,” Cannaday said. “I did not use cocaine in front of any students, I may have gone in the bathroom but I did not use drugs in front of them.”

The prosecution asked Cannaday if he was concerned for his sister, GW’s Assistant Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Helen Cannaday Saulny, and her reputation at the University in light of the accusations against him.

“I’m concerned and embarrassed and humiliated,” Cannaday said. “Her co-workers and my ex-co-workers are reading about this.”

Prosecutors also alleged that Cannaday sold drugs to a former student he once counseled at the MSSC, Nnawuihe Ukabiala.

Ukabiala, 24, testified in court on Monday that he first met Cannaday during his freshman year at GW in 2002. Ukabiala occasionally went to Cannaday’s apartment to watch basketball games, but said his relationship with Cannaday changed after he graduated.

“After I returned to the D.C. area I talked to him about looking for jobs and I became aware that he had access to cocaine and started to purchase cocaine from him,” Ukabiala said.

Ukabiala said he saw Cannaday selling drugs “upwards of a dozen times.”

During Ukabiala’s testimony, Cannaday shook his head, looking frustrated and later testified on Tuesday that Ukabiala was lying. Cannaday said he never gave, sold or used drugs with any students he counseled at the MSSC.

“I never sold to Nnawuihe, never got him high, contrary to what he said,” Cannaday testified. “I never got high with him ever in my life, or any other student that I was working with at The George Washington University.”

The defense’s closing argument hinged on the idea that Cannaday was “not your average drug addict,” and instead he was a sophisticated user who liked to package and cut his cocaine – the reason for the paraphernalia.

“All the evidence shows is that somebody was getting high,” said Cannaday’s attorney Leonard Long, in the defense’s closing statement.

Anthony Washington, a Metropolitan Police Department detective who is considered an expert in the distribution, packaging and prices for narcotics, testified that the items found in Cannaday’s apartment are typical items for a drug dealer to possess.

“Looking at the photograph here, I see the tools of the trade,” Washington said in reference to a photograph presented to him by the prosecution. “Spoons, Inositol, bags, cards – this tells me that this is someone that at one point in time was packaging drugs.”

Washington added that the money counter found in Cannaday’s apartment and on his person suggests that Cannaday was making a lot of money through his drug dealing.

During his testimony, Cannaday said the money counters and guns were not his, and that the drugs found in his apartment were meant solely for his use and that he never sold or distributed drugs to anyone else.

Testimonies also revealed that Cannaday worked at Camelot Showbar strip club while he was employed at the University.

Christine Stewart, an exotic dancer at the Camelot Showbar who was present at Cannaday’s apartment during the August raid, said the money counter found in Cannaday’s apartment was hers and that she used it to count the money she made from dancing.

Stewart said she and Cannaday were close friends, adding that she would stay over Cannaday’s apartment after work on many occasions when she was unable to drive home to her residence outside of the District.

Stewart testified that she never saw Cannaday process or give anyone drugs, nor did she see drugs lying around Cannaday’s home.

Eric Roper, Nathan Grossman and Sarah Scire contributed to this report.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.