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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, 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. 

C.Z. Guy February 16, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I wonder how much of that money went to fund terrorism?
Joe Galvagna February 16, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Guy good point. What about background checks for trash like this. These people did not just start this type of life but yet they are working and living in our community and stealing from us. Did any check to see if in fact these people were citizins? Twenty months in jail seems very low for this crime. I am sure this is not the last we will hear from this bunch of trash.
linda morgan February 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM
I work in the parking industry and someone should been fired for not catching this sooner....matching the loop counter and transactions is parking101...if counter didn't match...rookies
Kathy February 17, 2013 at 12:39 PM
This guy stole $1/2 million over three years and no one noticed. This means the lot must have made at least $1.5 million over those three years. It makes me wish I had gone into the parking industry.
kevin culler February 17, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Linda the first thing the story says is the electronic vehicle counter (loop counter) was disabled. Slow down...reading 101
Joe Galvagna February 17, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Only 20 months in jail for stealing. 5 mil. Was the judge who sentenced him on drugs? WTFO
David Dempster February 19, 2013 at 12:20 AM
It seems odd that this was going on for 3 years before it was detected. Why did it take so long to catch these thieves? What is their citizenship status, and how does this case affect it?

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