News and Press Releases

Hampton Women Pleads Guilty to Stealing Money from Commonwealth Challenge Program

September 8, 2011

NORFOLK, Va. – Donna M. Barrett, 45, of Hampton, Va., pleaded guilty today in Norfolk federal court to mail fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud the Commonwealth Challenge Program.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after Barrett pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Tommy E. Miller.  Barrett will be sentenced on December 12, 2011, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

            According to court documents, Barrett was employed as the Business Manager of the Commonwealth Challenge Program, a residential boot camp program for at-risk youth jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The Virginia National Guard runs the Program, which is based at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va.  Between 2006 and 2009, Barrett stole over $42,000 from the Program’s bank accounts.  Barrett frequently wrote checks payable to cash from the Program’s bank accounts for her own personal benefit.  She routinely fabricated invoices and receipts used to support unauthorized expenditures from the accounts.  In addition, Barrett also misrepresented that her daughter was an alumnus of the Challenge Program in order to obtain scholarship money from the Challenge Program Parent Association. 

            This case was investigated by the Virginia State Police and the United States Secret Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Katherine Lee Martin is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

            A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on




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