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.