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Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md. Pleads Guilty To Theft Of Public Money For Stealing From Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum Parking Lot

10:29 PM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) -- A man who was a parking lot attended at the National Air And Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center has pleaded guilty to stealing at least $400,000 worth of visitor parking fees.

Friday, 36-year-old Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md. pleaded guilty to theft of public money. He could serve up to 10 years in prison. 

Terefe is scheduled to be sentenced on December 14.

Terefe, who was an employee of Parking Management, Inc., admitted in a statement of facts to stealing parking fees in late 2009 by repeatedly unplugging the electronic vehicle counters in the parking booths or not handing people a serialized parking ticket to display in the car windshield after they paid their entrance fee. He did this to under-report the number of cars that actually came into the lot. He also admitted that he and other attendants talked about ways to steal parking money and at one point a manager demanded that he get half of the money so that the criminal activity could continue.

According to the statement of facts, Terefe stole between $1,800 and $4,500 a day. He reportedly kept some of the money at his home and used some of it to purchase an interest in commercial property in Ethiopia.

Terefe was arrested on August 4.  

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