A local transportation operator was sentenced to 14 months today for stealing federal funds intended for a foreign exchange program maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick of the Eastern District of Virginia, Inspector General Steve A. Linick of the U.S. Department of State and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Denon T. Hopkins, 49, of Germantown, Maryland, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III of the Eastern District of Virginia. Hopkins pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and theft of public money on Dec. 21, 2017.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Hopkins was the operator and de facto owner of a transportation company that contracted with the State Department to provide bus and limousine services to a State Department component devoted to sports diplomacy and which sponsored a foreign exchange program for emerging 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. During a time period when Hopkins received $247,200 in grant funds for legitimate transportation services, he and a State Department official conspired to steal portions of the federal money allocated to the exchange program by, among other things, falsifying vendor-related invoices and making fraudulent checks payable to Hopkins. In total, Hopkins stole approximately $17,335 from the State Department. He also admitted that he used portions of the funds to pay kickbacks to the State Department official to retain his transportation contract.
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.