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Press Release

Former Treasurer and Comptroller of the Universal Ballet Foundation Pleads Guilty in $1.5 Million Bank Fraud Matter

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Sophia Kim, a/k/a “Sophia Kim Sebold” and “Sookyeong Kim Sebold”, 60, the former Treasurer and Comptroller for the Universal Ballet Foundation, which operated the Kirov Academy of Ballet, pled guilty today to a charge stemming from her embezzlement of $1,501,285.13, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips.

            Kim, of Temple Hills, Maryland, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to Bank Fraud.  The Honorable Rudolph Contreras scheduled sentencing for September 15, 2021.  The charge carries a statutory penalty of up to thirty years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss of the offense.

            “For nearly a year, this defendant used her trusted position to fleece her nonprofit employer for 1.5 million dollars,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips.  “We have no tolerance for offenders raiding the coffers of the businesses and institutions that make our District great.”

            “Kim treated her company’s funds as her own personal bank account, even using it to fund a gambling spree,” said Timothy Thibault, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “The FBI is committed to rooting out and bringing to justice those who commit this kind of unconscionable financial fraud that harms our communities’ businesses.”

            According to a statement of offense submitted to the Court, Kim was employed as the Treasurer and Comptroller for the Universal Ballet Foundation, which operated the Kirov Academy of Ballet (“KAB”), a 501(c)(3) organization located in the District of Columbia.   Kim admitted that, between approximately January 2018 and September 2018, she misappropriated approximately $1,501,285.12 from KAB’s bank accounts through unauthorized check, debit, and credit card transactions.   This consisted of: (1) 68 unauthorized checks to “Cash” or to “Sophia Kim,” in whole-dollar amounts ranging from $500 to $12,000, totaling approximately $377,200; (2) 197 unauthorized debits and cash withdrawals, totaling approximately $479,283; and (3) 139 unauthorized credit card transactions, totaling approximately $681,751.  Notably, 120 unauthorized debits and withdrawals and 120 credit card charges at MGM National Harbor Casino in Oxon Hill, MD, totaling approximately $1,068,026. 

            In announcing the plea, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips acknowledged the work of Paralegal Angeline Thekkumthala of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Rothstein and David Kent, who investigated and prosecuted this matter.

Updated May 6, 2021

Financial Fraud