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Parking Attendants at Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center Charged With Stealing $400,000 in Parking Fees

Three employees of Parking Management, Inc. were arrested Saturday. An arrest does not mean a conviction.

Three parking attendants were arrested Saturday at the end of their shifts for allegedly stealing $400,000 collected from visitor parking fees over three years at the  in Chantilly.

The employees — two women — Freweyni Mebrahtu of Sterling and Genete Yigzu of Alexandria — and one man — Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md., are employees of D.C.-based Parking Management Inc or PMI. They were charged with embezzling and stealing federal money.

The three individuals allegedly began stealing money in April 2009 after PMI came into control of the lot. The Smithsonian parking lot holds 2,000 cars and each driver pays a $15 daily fee to park.

According to an affidavit filed in court, closed-circuit cameras on Smithsonian premises caught the individuals unplugging electronic vehicle counters at their attendant stations. Court documents report that Mebrahtu and Terefe may have each stolen more than $4,000 in a single day. Yigzu may have stolen as much as $1,185 on some days.

If convicted, each individual could face up to a 10-year prison sentence. They were arrested after completing their shifts by Smithsonian Office of Inspector General agents and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jasmine Yoon and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James McDonald will prosecute the case.

The Udvar-Hazy Center, located at 14490 Air and Space Museum Parkway, is the companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. It opened in 2003 and now houses the Space Shuttle Discovery and other aircrafts.

JT Thomas August 07, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Why, they must have stolen the parking fee for Dozens of cars. :-|
Line Kerr August 07, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I think PMI should be fired as a contractor by all fed gov't agencies. They should be investigated across the board. Will someone please tell me why they took three years to apprehend these crooks? If they were being watched since 2009 and stealing over $1000/day, why is this allowed to go on. There were no comments from Air & Space, judging by the number of people that visited, weren't they concerned that the parking fees didn't reflect attendance? What a bunch of Bozos; all involved. I guess we should be grateful they didn't allow them to STEAL for 10 more years.
Skip Endale August 07, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Dreams of flying appeared in the collective unconscious before the reality of flight existed in technology, and I suspect that if we understood our dreams better we would use our technology more wisely . . . The ironies of Swift and Aristophanes, and the myths of the fall of Icarus and Donald Duck, indicate that the collective unconscious contains a force opposed to our dreams of flight. This appears inevitable . . . But what if we begin to regrow healthy organs of Poetic Imagination and flight? What if we put on wings and arouse the coiled splendor within? Perhaps we could leave this parking lot behind...
Mel August 08, 2012 at 04:30 AM
PMI human resource and upper managment in D.C knows when they hire the attendants and they get their fair share $$$$. You think each attendant took 2000 a day to themselves? NO. Wait until the next wave of PMI management arrest. Now, they mess with uncle sam. They cheat a lot of private parking lots ithe past, and all they have to do is pay the amout they own monthly.
PaulinHerndon August 09, 2012 at 10:41 AM
What are you talking about?
Mark Carolla August 09, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Sounds like a tax payer rip-off with corporate welfare. To add insult to injury the contractors employees steal from the public. Makes one wonder if previous to 2009 civil servants or Smithsonian employees were responsible for collecting parking fees and why the Smithsonian had to contract out. The idea of PMI being contracted out to make a profit at a national museum boggles the mind - you can't even get a yearly pass like you can at a National Park or at the Smithsonian's National Zoo - doesn't anybody think that $15 a day is a bit excessive? At the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk you can visit per person for 1-7 days for $4 and get an Annual Pass for $20.00 that allows unlimited entry to the Wright Brothers National Memorial for 12 months from date of purchase which admits the passholder(s) + 3 adults (16 years of age and older). At the National Zoo FONZ members park for free - no such program at Udvar-Hazy. As a comparison closer to home - Daily Parking at Dulles Airport is $17 a day. There is something very wrong with this picture. I for one, being interested in aviation would visit a lot but can't afford it at $15.00 a visit. Hopefully our Congressmen can get the PMI leaches kicked off the property and put it under the National Park Service or other organization with ethics and make the place affordable..
Carole August 14, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Hello People, are we all reading the same artical? Do any of you remember 911? I bet the FBI and Asst. Attorney General and whoever else have been watching these creeps since 2009 to see were this money was going. They contract out to advoid paying benifits, unempoyment, socal securtiy, ect. They charge $15.00 per car the going rate in the area for parking NOT admin fee. They don't have a huge on street parking and most people think their car is safer in a parking garage. Employees of the area can pay a yearly fee of about 100 grand or 200. PMI will most likely claim bankrupt and change their name and uniform keep the same employees and keep moving. I'm more concerned with.... Where did all this money go? Are park rangers parking attendents? and are they willing to make $8.00 an hr. with awful benifits? most Americans won't, that's why most security guards, parking attendents, cleaning or service people in general are non americans.

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