Silver Spring Parking Attendant Sentenced to 20 Months for Smithsonian Scheme
Meseret Terefe pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $500,000 from a Smithsonian parking facility in Chantilly, VA.
A Silver Spring man was sentenced to 20 months in prison and three years of supervised probation after he pleaded guilty to stealing $487,000 from a Smithsonian parking facility in Chantilly, VA, the Loundon Times-Mirror reports.
Meseret Terefe, 37, of Silver Spring, entered a guilty plea in federal court Sept. 28, 2012 saying that he stole the cash between March 2009 and July 2012 from the parking garage of the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. He was also made to pay $456,515 in restitution, the Times-Mirror reported.
Terefe was part of a group of employees that cheated the parking lot by disabling the electronic vehicle counter the parking lot used to tally vehicles that drove through entry gates and pocketing the fees. He said that he was brought into the scheme by a co-worker and eventually began paying off a manager. Hidden cameras helped detect the theft.
Making up to $4,500 a day from the crime, Terefe said that he kept some of the money in his Silver Spring home and used some to help purchase an interest in a commercial property in Ethiopia, according to the newspaper.
Two others, Freweyni Mebrahtu, 45, of Sterling, and Genete Yigzu, 46, of Alexandria, were also charged in connection with the theft. Mebrahtu pleaded guilty last November, according to the Times-Mirror.