Parking lot attendants stole $1.4M

Feb. 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Two parking lot attendants at a Smithsonian Institute outpost in Virginia have been sentenced to prison for skimming $1.4 million in parking fees.

Freweyni Mebrahtu, 46, of Sterling, Va., was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison. Her partner in crime, Meseret Terefe, 37, of Silver Spring, Md., received 20 months in January, The Washington Post reported.

Mebrahtu and Terefe were attendants in the lot at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex of the National Air and Space Museum. Investigators say they falsified work sheets and disabled the counter that kept track of how many vehicles entered the lot -- stealing as much as 10 percent of the total fees paid by visitors between 2009 and 2012.

Mebrahtu made off with more than $900,000 and Terefe took almost $500,000.

Agents found more than $200,000 in Terefe's apartment when he was arrested. He allegedly used the rest of the money to buy a condo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mebrahtu used the money to send her children to college and for other expenses, including donations to mosques.

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