Homeless mom who became education touchstone busted for selling crack, cops say

Liz Goodwin

Tanya McDowell, the homeless mom in Connecticut who started a national debate when she was arrested for enrolling her son in a neighboring school district, has been arrested for allegedly selling crack and marijuana and offering prostitutes to undercover cops.

According to the Stamford Advocate, the sales happened three times between May 27 and June 3, one of them during her son's birthday party. Police claim she offered them two women she was pimping out at her aunt's house.

McDowell's attorney, Darnell Crosland, says the sting was "retaliatory," a result of city officials' embarrassment at the national attention her arrest in April brought. "The whole thing stinks," Crosland told the paper.

In April, McDowell faced 20 years in prison for charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for signing up her 5-year-old son to attend nearby Norwalk schools under the address of a friend. She told local reporters she sent her child to Norwalk schools, instead of Bridgeport, where she was living at the time, because the Norwalk school was better. Her arrest ignited debate on inequalities in the public education system, and drew the support of civil rights figures such as Al Sharpton.

Parents rarely become targets of criminal prosecution in false address cases.

(McDowell: Alex von Kleydorff/AP)