Abeselom Hailemariam of Alexandria, Va., Sentenced For Stealing Money From Smithsonian Institution's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Parking Lot

9:43 AM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- A third parking lot worker who conspired to steal more than $1 million of parking fees from the Smithsonian Institution's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. has been sentenced.

Officials say 33-year-old Abeselom Hailemariam of Alexandria, Va., was sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay approximately $1.4 million in restitution for his role in a conspiracy to steal approximately $1.4 million of visitor-parking fees, announced Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Hailemariam pleaded guilty on April 19 to conspiracy to commit theft of public money as part of a scheme spanning several years.

We are told from March 2009 to August 2012, Hailemariam was a location manager for Parking Management Inc. ("PMI"), which had a contract with the Smithsonian to manage its parking lot. Hailemariam participated in a conspiracy to steal parking revenues and shared the stolen money with PMI booth attendants.

Hailemariam knew the booth attendants withheld parking ticket stubs from paying customers and unplugged electronic vehicle counters in the entrance booths. He helped in the scheme by making and submitting false operations reports to PMI, say authorities.

The booth attendants gave Hailemariam a part of the stolen money at the end of the day by bundling unreported cash with their shift summary reports, say officials. Hailemariam told the attends to stop stealing when he believed the risk of detection of the conspiracy was high. Officials say the total loss due to the conspiracy is at least $1,383,195. Based on the $15 entrance fee, officials estimate that the three employees stole from at least 92,213 museum visitors. 

Former PMI employees Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md. and Freweyni Mebrahtu of Sterling, Va., were sentenced to 20 months and 27 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the thefts.

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