News

EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY

             

                                             Misused Her Government Credit Card to Purchase Personal Items

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2013

Greenbelt, Maryland – Mary Michelle Thompson, age 42, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to theft of government property in connection with her misuse of her government credit card.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Elton Malone, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, Special Investigations Branch.

According to her plea agreement, between January 2010 and February 2012, Thompson was an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and was authorized to use a government credit card to purchase items for official use in her office or by HHS employees in their work.

Thompson admitted that beginning no later than January 2010, she began to buy personal items that were not needed or used for the operations of her office at HHS and were not delivered to or used by HHS personnel. These items included electronics, sporting goods and gift cards to retailers. The total value of the purchases was over $16,000.

In June 2012, an HHS auditor asked Thompson to provide copies of documents supporting some of the purchases made with her government credit card. Thompson submitted forged vendor invoices altered to reflect fictitious legitimate purchases in the amounts of her unauthorized expenditures. When confronted with the discrepancies between her documentation and the documentation obtained directly from the vendors, Thompson claimed that she did not recall receiving or ordering the items. Thompson resigned from HHS shortly thereafter.

A search of her residence on December 18, 2012, recovered many of the person items purchased with her government credit card including a 32GB iPod Touch and iPod accessories, a Blackberry Playbook, a Bose headset, roller skates, pool cues and shoes. The serial number on the iPod Touch recovered from Thompson’s residence matched the serial number on the invoice obtained directly from Apple which showed that it was purchased with Thompson’s government credit card.

Thompson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for October 2, 2013.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the HHS-OIG Special Investigations Branch for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Hollis R. Weisman, who is prosecuting the case.

According to the indictment, the Smiths also caused more than $1 million, which had been transferred from Platinum One to their bank accounts and to casinos on their behalf, to be falsely recorded in Capitol Contractors’ books and records as corporate expenses paid for subcontractors, and concealed this fact from their tax preparer. As a result, the indictment alleges that their tax preparer prepared corporate tax returns for Capitol Contractors which falsely overstated the company’s expenses, and prepared personal income taxes for the Smiths which falsely understated their taxable income, thereby falsely understating the amount of taxes owed to the IRS.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy; and three years in prison for making and subscribing a false tax return and for aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns. Vernon J. Smith III also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud. No court appearance has been scheduled.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Anthony Wright, age 42, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty on June 18, 2013, to his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30, 2013.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the SBA Office of Inspector General; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; IRS Criminal Investigation; and the GSA Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Gregory R. Bockin and Trial Attorney Kenneth C. Vert of the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

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