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Press Release

Virginia Woman Sentenced to Prison for Fraudulently Ordering Cell Phones on Behalf of Her Non-Profit Employer and Reselling Them for Cash

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Received More Than 1,000 Phones Worth Over $600,000

            WASHINGTON – Celeste Santifer, 56, of Alexandria, Virginia, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 41 months in prison for committing wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division.

            Santifer was a former employee of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington (“YMCA-DC”), which is a non-profit organization with 16 branches and program centers in the District of Columbia and greater Washington, D.C. area.  Santifer worked as an office manager at YMCA-DC from approximately 2007 until her termination in May of 2019.  While working at the YMCA-DC, Santifer devised a scheme to defraud by taking advantage of an arrangement with Verizon Wireless (“Verizon”) to sell YMCA-DC, as a non-profit organization, cell phones for its employees at a discounted price.  From at least January 2016 through April 2019, Santifer placed online orders for discounted cell phones from Verizon that she personally received, disconnected from service, and sold to companies that buy and sell new or slightly used phones.  Santifer ultimately ordered over 1,000 phones purportedly for YMCA-DC employees that she sold to third-party companies for money.  The value of the phones to Verizon was $618,090.

            Santifer pleaded guilty on October 3, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth. In addition to the prison term, Judge Lamberth ordered restitution of $618,090, and three years of supervised release.

            In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Graves and Special Agent in Charge Jacobs commended the work of those from the FBI’s Washington Field Office who investigated the case. They also expressed appreciation to Paralegal Specialist Michon Tart. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine Macey, who prosecuted the case, and Kathryn Rakoczy, who investigated the case.

Updated May 4, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-235