McLEAN, Va. — Authorities have determined that parking-lot employees stole more than $1.5 million from the Smithsonian at the museum’s Udvar-Hazy Air and Space annex in Chantilly, much more than first estimated.
The new estimate came to light at a hearing Friday in federal court in Alexandria, where a lot attendant, Freweyni Mebrahtu, 46, of Sterling, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.
When charges were announced last year, authorities said they believed the losses exceeded $400,000 but were unsure of the exact amount.
At Friday’s hearing, Mebrahtu admitted she alone stole $895,000 over a three-year period.
She said she did so at the urging of supervisors with parking contractor PMI, who demanded two-thirds of the money Mebrahtu took in.
Going into Friday’s hearing, authorities had estimated that Mebrahtu stole nearly $1.2 million, based on length of employment and how much she typically stole each month. But prosecutors accepted her assertion that she did not steal during the Muslim holy days of Ramadan, and revised the loss attributable to Mebrahtu to $895,000.