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Justice News

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Former NIH Employee Indicted For Using Her Government Credit Card To Make Unauthorized Purchases

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Francesca Daniele, age 48, of LaPlata, Maryland, today on wire fraud charges in connection with the misuse of her government credit card.

The indictment 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 Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, Special Investigations Branch         

According to the three-count indictment and other court documents, Daniele was an employed as a program support assistant at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from June 2013 to September 2014, when she was terminated.  As part of her employment, Daniele was authorized to purchase equipment from vendors and to administer contracts on behalf of NIH.  To perform her job, Daniele was issued a government credit card in her name, which was only to be used for official government purchases.

The indictment alleges that from July 12 through July 28, 2014, Daniele used her government credit card to make over $21,000 of personal purchases at retail stores and used her cell phone to contact the credit card’s customer service center to facilitate approval of those purchases.  According to court documents, Daniele purchased gift cards, electronics, and other personal items such as food and clothing.  The indictment further alleges that to conceal the scheme Daniele falsely reported that her credit card had been lost.

Daniele faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of three counts of wire fraud.  No court appearance has been scheduled.  Daniele was arrested on June 30, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada on a related criminal complaint.  She was transferred to Maryland and had an initial appearance on July 23, 2015 in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.  Daniele remains detained.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the HHS-OIG for its work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein 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.

Public Corruption
Updated July 27, 2015