Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

November 2, 2012

2nd Smithsonian worker admits to $400K in theft

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A second former parking lot attendant at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum annex in northern Virginia has pleaded guilty to stealing at least $400,000 in parking fees.

Prosecutors say 45-year-old Freweyni Mebrahtu of Sterling pleaded guilty Thursday. The plea follows Mebrahtu's arrest in August by agents from the Smithsonian's Office of Inspector General and the FBI.

The plea agreement shows Mebrahtu admitted that since October 2009, she stole $15 entrance fees from thousands of museum visitors. She admitted unplugging vehicle counters and not handing customers parking tickets to display in their cars.

She also admitted paying a portion of the stolen proceeds to a parking lot manager at Parking Management Inc.

In September, 36-year-old Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md. also pleaded guilty to stealing at least $400,000.

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