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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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Former Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud
In $217,000 Scam Against Employer
- Defendant Used Money for Computers, Other Personal Items -

     WASHINGTON - Carmelita Hines, 48, of Waldorf, Maryland, pled guilty today to a charge of wire fraud in an embezzlement scheme that cost her former employer more than $200,000, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

     Hines pled guilty before Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She is to be sentenced May 11, 2012 by the Honorable Ellen S. Huvelle. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years of incarceration. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the likely range is between 24 and 30 months in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. As part of the plea agreement, Hines agreed to a money judgment of at least $217,074, representing the amount of proceeds from the crime. She also is subject to an order to make restitution.

     According to a Statement of Offense presented to the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, Hines worked from 2003 until 2011 as office operations manager for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission that makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress. Her duties included, among other things, managing the procession, tracking and expenses of the commission’s expenses and other finances.

     From 2007 until 2011, Hines repeatedly used credit card accounts in the name of the commission and in her own name, on behalf of the commission, to embezzle $217,074. She used the accounts to charge $146,008 in personal expenses and to make $71,066 in cash withdrawals for her personal benefit. The personal expenses included assorted gift cards, computer equipment, automobile GPS systems, an iPod Nano, gasoline, cosmetics, movie tickets, investment in a “get-rich-quick” scheme, and other items.

     The defendant used her position to conceal her embezzlement and fraud. Among other things, she altered credit card statements and certified documents to hide the crimes.

     In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin praised those who worked on the case, including the Special Agents of the FBI’s Washington Field Office as well as Legal Assistant Jared Forney of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They also commended the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, who is prosecuting the case.





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