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  Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy: Parking lot fees thefts

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Author Topic:   Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy: Parking lot fees thefts

Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-09-2013 07:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Associated Press reports that parking-lot employees have stolen more than $1.5 million from the Smithsonian at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex in Chantilly, Va, much more than an earlier estimate.
The new estimate came to light at a hearing Friday in federal court in Alexandria, where a lot attendant, Freweyni Mebrahtu, 46, of Sterling, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.

When charges were announced last year, authorities said they believed the losses exceeded $400,000 but were unsure of the exact amount.

At Friday's hearing, Mebrahtu admitted she alone stole $895,000 over a three-year period.

She said she did so at the urging of supervisors with parking contractor PMI, who demanded two-thirds of the money Mebrahtu took in.

Going into Friday's hearing, authorities had estimated that Mebrahtu stole nearly $1.2 million, based on length of employment and how much she typically stole each month. But prosecutors accepted her assertion that she did not steal during the Muslim holy days of Ramadan, and revised the loss attributable to Mebrahtu to $895,000.

A second employee, Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md., was sentenced to 20 months in prison after admitting to the theft of $487,000 in parking fees.

A third employee died awaiting trial, and an exact count was never determined, but court records show that authorities believe she stole more than $120,000.

Visitors to the Udvar-Hazy center typically pay a $15 parking fee. Court records show that Mebrahtu and other employees engaged in the scheme routinely unplugged machines that counted the vehicles entering the building, and that on a typical day Mebrahtu would fail to log in nearly 40 percent of the cars that came through her lane.


Posts: 216
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2011

posted 02-09-2013 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You have to love the personal integrity that stops one from stealing during a sacred month because that would be just too wrong!


Posts: 747
From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 02-09-2013 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm glad I use an Air & Space Society pre-paid parking pass whenever I need to park there during business hours. At least I know my money has gone directly to the museum.


Posts: 145
From: belleville, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 02-09-2013 08:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boss: "Oh heck, our receipts are down 40% again. Oh gosh, I bet so and so was working again yesterday. Oh well. Must have been a slow day...again."

Wouldn't someone have analyzed parking reciepts versus attendance or SOMEONE not involved in the scheme have noticed a huge discrepancy? Amazing they got away with this for so long.


Posts: 55
From: Dallas TX USA
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 02-09-2013 09:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did no one notice the 40% increase in parking receipts during Ramadan?


Posts: 809
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 02-09-2013 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The only people to blame are the employees who stole the money. Nobody else.


Posts: 1488
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 02-11-2013 06:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, so now that they aren't losing 40% anymore, they can lower the parking to $10 and still make the same amount of money.


Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 02-11-2013 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by ejectr:
Okay, so now that they aren't losing 40% anymore, they can lower the parking to $10 and still make the same amount of money.

No, they'll probably raise it to $20 to make up the money that was lost.

All times are CT (US)

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