Hopewell City Employee Pleads Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy
RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond woman pleaded guilty today to her role in a conspiracy to defraud the City of Hopewell of funds intended for at-risk school children, and filing false tax returns.
“As a result of Karriem’s theft of nearly half a million dollars from the City of Hopewell, she deprived at-risk school children of critically needed counseling services,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring those taxpayer funds were spent on improving the lives of at-risk children, Karriem chose instead to devise a complex fraud scheme to line her own pockets. We have a long history of investigating and prosecuting fraud cases here in the Eastern District, and we remain committed to working closely with our local and state partners to ensure that those who choose to engage in fraud activity are held accountable and brought to justice.”
According to court documents, Jamillah Karriem, 45, was employed by the City of Hopewell as the City’s Comprehensive Services Act (CSA) Coordinator. The Commonwealth of Virginia utilizes the CSA to provide state funding for services to high-risk children across the Commonwealth, and provides those state funds to localities, such as Hopewell. As the city’s CSA Coordinator, Karriem was responsible for directing CSA-funded contracts to service providers for at-risk school children in Hopewell.
“Karriem sought to benefit financially by devising a scheme to steal nearly half a million dollars from the City of Hopewell,” said Kelly Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-CI. “Her scheme ultimately took vital services away from the community, causing further damage to students in need of the support.”
In October 2011, Karriem directed a friend to form a business, A World of Possibilities (WOP), for the ostensible purpose of providing mentoring and counseling services to at-risk students at public schools in Hopewell. Karriem thereafter steered a CSA counseling services contract to WOP, and between November 2011 and June 2015, WOP billed the City of Hopewell for more than $480,000 worth of counseling services purportedly provided to a number of public school students. WOP did not actually provide any services to those students, however, and Karriem and her co-conspirator split the fraudulent proceeds. From 2012 to 2015, Karriem also filed four false tax returns, significantly under-reporting her income each year. Karriem’s total criminal tax loss amounts to at least $133,602.
Karriem pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and making a false tax return, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on July 1. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas A. Garnett and Kaitlin Cooke are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:19-cr-58.