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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

District Woman Sentenced To 10 Months In Prison For Embezzling Over $193,000 From Charitable Organization-Used Money For Vacations, Personal Training, Other Personal Expenses-

     WASHINGTON – Maria Herrmann, 53, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 10 months in prison for embezzling over $193,000 from a charitable organization from 2004 through 2008, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Gary R. Barksdale, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

     Herrmann pled guilty in June 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count of wire fraud. She was sentenced by the Honorable James E. Boasberg.  As part of her guilty plea, Herrmann agreed to forfeit the amount of her fraudulent proceeds, $193,770, and pay the same amount in restitution to the charitable foundation. Upon completion of her prison term, she will be placed on three years of supervised release.

     As part of her guilty plea, Herrmann admitted that, between May 2004 and June 2008, she operated an on-line “e-store” with operations meant to raise funds for a non-profit charitable organization.  To raise funds, the e-store auctioned various donated goods and services, as well as travel and vacation packages.  Herrmann admitted to embezzling over $193,000 by wiring herself funds from the charity’s account, by using the e-store account to pay for personal purchases, and by other means. 

     Herrmann admitted using the charity’s funds to pay for vacations, personal training, pet care and pet supplies, and gourmet coffee, among other things.  Finally, Herrmann admitted disguising her embezzlement from the charity by underreporting the e-store’s revenue.

     In addition, at sentencing, the government submitted evidence regarding other misconduct Herrmann engaged in related to travel vouchers she sold through the “e-store.”  As set forth in the government’s sentencing memorandum, Herrmann sold these travel vouchers below cost and then, often, deceived customers as to the quality of travel packages they purchased – for example, booking travelers in a lower quality hotel than promised.  In June 2008, when her embezzlement was discovered, the operation became unsustainable. Thousands of would-be travel customers then found themselves stuck without airfare or hotels they were promised, including some on the eve of planned wedding and family travel.  In the following weeks, the charitable foundation tried to make Herrmann’s customers whole, processing more than 4,000 claims and issuing refunds to over 2,000 customers.  Those refunds, and other remedial costs, led to over $5.2 million in losses for the charity.

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen and Inspector in Charge Barksdale expressed appreciation for the work done by those who investigated the case from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They also commended the work of those who handled the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Krishawn Graham and Donna Galindo, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Hooks, who investigated and prosecuted the case.


Updated February 19, 2015