State Department Official Sentenced to Prison for Engaging in Honest Services Wire Fraud and Theft of Federal Funds
A program manager for the U.S. Department of State was sentenced to 13 months in prison today for accepting kickbacks and stealing federal funds intended for a foreign exchange program maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, Inspector General Steve A. Linick of the U.S. Department of State and Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division made the announcement.
Kelli R. Davis, 49, of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III of the Eastern District of Virginia. On May 24, Davis pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and theft of public money.
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. 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.
Davis admitted that between February 2011 and March 2016, she 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.