Former NIH Employee Admits to Using Her Government Credit Card for Unauthorized Purchases
Fraudulently Purchased More Than $21,000 of Items in Just 16 Days Using Her Government Credit Card
Greenbelt, Maryland – Francesca Maria Daniele, age 49, of LaPlata, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with the misuse of her government credit card.
The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Elton Malone, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Special Investigations Branch.
In July 2014, Daniele worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), purchasing equipment from vendors and administering contracts on behalf of NIH. To perform her job, Daniele was issued a government credit card.
According to her plea agreement, from July 12 through July 28, 2014, Daniele used her government credit card to fraudulently make approximately $21,830.19 of personal purchases at retail stores. She used her cell phone to contact the credit card’s customer service center to facilitate approval of those purchases. To conceal the scheme, Daniele falsely reported that her credit card had been lost.
Additionally, on October 15, 2014, Daniele opened a credit card account in the name of her minor child. She used the credit card to buy a laptop computer, video game console, a ring and other items, all of which were shipped to a hotel room she rented under an assumed name. Daniele did not pay for several of the items, resulting in a loss to the credit card company of approximately $508.48.
Daniele has agreed to the entry of an order requiring her to forfeit and pay restitution of at least $22,338.67, the total amount of loss resulting from her conduct.
Daniele faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang scheduled sentencing for March 8, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the HHS-OIG for its work in the investigation, and thanked Assistant United States Attorney Thomas P. Windom and Trial Attorney Justin D. Weitz of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, who are prosecuting the case.