State Department Official Pleads Guilty to Honest Services Wire Fraud and Theft of Federal Funds
A program manager for the U.S. Department of State pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing federal funds intended for a foreign exchange program maintained by her employer, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division and Inspector General Steve A. Linick of the U.S. Department of State.
Kelli R. Davis, 48, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and engage in honest services wire fraud before U.S. Senior District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24.
According to admissions made in connection with her plea, Davis was a Program Specialist for the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges. She also served as the Program Manager and Grants Officer Representative for the Sports Visitors Program, which sponsored foreign exchanges for emerging youth athletes and coaches from various countries. The exchange program was managed by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, through a federal grant and cooperative agreement with the State Department.
Between February 2011 and March 2016, Davis conspired with others to steal portions of the federal money allocated to the Sports Visitor Program by, among other things, falsifying vendor-related invoices and making fraudulent checks payable to a government contractor, Denon Hopkins, who supplied transportation services for the program. In total, Davis and Hopkins, stole approximately $17,335 from the State Department. They have both admitted that Hopkins used portions of the funds to pay kickbacks to Davis to retain his transportation contract. In addition, Davis stole an additional $17,777 from the program over a multi-year period.
The Department of State’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case. Trial Attorney Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly R. Pedersen of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.