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Three alumni join Board of Trustees
By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Ex-counselor facing drug charges

Clarification appended

A former counselor at GW who is facing drug and firearms charges after a raid on his Foggy Bottom home this summer also sold cocaine to a former student he met through his position, prosecutors allege in recent court filings.

Lawrence Cannaday, 52, was arrested in August 2008 after Metropolitan Police Department officers raided his apartment on 21st between E and F streets and found cocaine, marijuana, two unregistered firearms and money counters, court filings state. Prosecutors now say that Cannaday sold drugs to a student he once counseled at the Multicultural Student Services Center, according to court documents.

Cannaday is the brother of GW’s Assistant Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services, Helen Cannaday Saulny, who oversees the MSSC office. Cannaday Saulny, who declined to comment, was the director of the MSSC beginning in 1994, according to an online biography. In June 2003, she was promoted to her current position, which oversees the MSSC and the Student Activities Center.

It remains unclear whether the former student, who is not named in the filings, was enrolled at the University when Lawrence Cannaday allegedly sold them drugs. Court documents and a University statement indicate that Cannaday was not employed by GW at the time of the alleged drug deals with the former student.

The former student, who prosecutors plan to call as a witness at Cannaday’s trial in March, allegedly learned Cannaday was involved with drugs in 2006 and purchased cocaine from him almost once a week between late 2007 and spring 2008. The former student also sold drugs for Cannaday and spent time at his apartment where he said he saw guns and people purchasing drugs, court documents state.

Cannaday worked at the University between 1992 and October 2006, said University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard, who declined to comment on the manner in which he left. A spokesman for the United States Attorney’s office declined to comment on the ongoing proceedings.

Cannaday has been charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of possessing an unregistered firearm, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Court filings name him as the director of the MSSC, but Michael Tapscott, current director of the center, said Cannaday was actually a counselor.

“He worked with students in terms of ensuring that they were getting connected to campus life,” Tapscott said. “That they were doing well academically but also doing well in terms of other aspects of college engagement.”

Tapscott, who became director in 2003, said he had not heard of the most recent allegations, adding that Cannaday was a good person and that the charges came as a shock.

“That would be extremely disappointing,” Tapscott said in reference to the allegations.

Other items found in Cannaday’s home include a mirror with white residue, ziplock bags containing cocaine and $2,738 in cash, according to court documents. A semiautomatic pistol was located under a mattress, and another was found in a closet – near photos of Cannaday holding the gun, the documents state.

Two weeks ago, Cannaday’s attorney filed a motion to suppress all evidence gathered in the Aug. 19 raid. The defense asserted that MPD officers did not announce their presence outside Cannaday’s apartment before entering, according to court filings, but prosecutors have opposed this claim. The defense also filed a motion asking the court to reveal the name of a confidential informant whose tip led to the initial raid.

Tapscott said he did not believe Lawrence Cannaday’s hiring or departure from the University had anything to do with his relation to Helen Cannaday Saulny.

Lawrence Cannaday could not be reached for comment.

Clarification (March 24, 2009)

The first sentence of this article originally stated that Cannaday “sold cocaine to a student he met through his position.” The student was identified in court filings as a “former student,” and the article notes that it is unclear whether he was enrolled at the time of the alleged drug sale. In trial, the witness testified that although he met Cannaday as a student, he was not enrolled at the time of the alleged drug sale.

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