FORMER DC FIRE INSPECTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD
Ex DC Government Employee Admits to Embezzling More Than $11,000 Worth of Gas on Government Credit Card
On March 9, 2015, Kimberly Pinkney, a former inspector for the District of Columbia Fire Department (DCFD) pleaded guilty in Superior Court to Second Degree Felony Fraud, in violation of D.C. Code Section 22-3221. Pinkney will be sentenced by Judge Juliet McKenna on May 5, 2015. She faces a maximum of 3 years in prison and/or fines. According to a Department of Justice press release, the plea agreement requires Pinkney to pay full restitution to the District of Columbia.
According to an affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court, federal special agents assigned to the General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) became suspicious when a certain government-issued gas credit card had multiple purchases on the same day for gas. Once special agents determined the make and model of the vehicle assigned to that gas card, they noted that the amount of gas that was purchased was beyond that vehicle’s tank capacity. Law enforcement agents then pulled the transaction records for the gas card and they revealed numerous suspicious purchases between July 7, 2011 and December 10, 2014, totaling $11,334 in unauthorized gas purchases. Pinkney was not authorized to fuel her personal vehicle using the government credit card. Agents pulled the video from the most recent transaction using the gas card at issue and saw Pinkney fueling a Chevrolet Tahoe, Pinkney’s personal vehicle. Agents then interviewed Pinkney who admitted she had made the unauthorized purchases because her hours had been cut at her part-time job and she needed money for her daughter in college. The Washington Post reported that Pinkney had worked at DCFD since 1988, earning approximately $77,000 a year in salary. Pinkney was ultimately arrested by the police and charged by prosecutors on January 14, 2015 with First Degree Felony Fraud. She struck a plea bargain with the government to a lesser charge. Local ABC affiliate WJLA reported that Pinkney resigned her position with the DCFD in January 2015.
Pinkney is not the only one who has been accused of stealing gas through unauthorized use of the government’s credit card. Local affiliate NBC4 reported that a recent audit showed that government employees have stolen more than $2.4 million dollars’ worth of gas since 2010. In the same audit that revealed Pinkney’s fraud, special agents allegedly found evidence that Terrell McCray, a staff assistant at DCFD, fraudulently filled the tank of his personal vehicles to the tune of $2,637 between August 16, 2014 and December 12, 2014. McCray was charged in D.C. Superior Court with First Degree Fraud and is scheduled for a status hearing on March 20, 2015. McCray has pleaded not guilty and denies the charges against him. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty. D.C. Code Section 22-3221 makes it a felony to knowingly engage in a scheme or systematic course of conduct with intent to defraud or to obtain the property of another by means of a false pretense, representation, or promise. If convicted of First Degree Felony Fraud under the D.C. Code, the Court can sentence McCray to up to 10 years in prison and order him to pay up to twice the value of the stolen property or $25,000, whichever is greater. Luckily for Pinkney and McCray, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia declined to prosecute either of them in federal court, where the statutory maximums are much higher. Some recent federal employees have not been so lucky in Virginia.
Former husband and wife pair Lanaire White and Coleen Newton-White were both convicted in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for fraud related to stealing $300,000 worth of gasoline paid for on a government credit card in 2011. Coleen Newton-White previously worked as a federal government employee in the motor pool at Ft. Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. According to NBC-4, Newton-White gave her ex-husband government gas cards and he used them to purchase gas and sold the stolen gas to other individuals, often at lower prices pocketing the cash. According to a DOJ press release, the government’s losses exceeded $300,000 in stolen gas in this case. Coleen Newton-White pleaded guilty on May 4, 2011 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1349; 1343. On August 12, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Mark S. Davis sentenced Newton-White to 41 months’ incarceration followed by 3 years of supervised release. Lanaire White, a member of the Moors, a separatist group which does not recognize federal jurisdiction, decided to roll the dice at trial. He was not a winner. A jury convicted Lanaire White of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, theft of government property, use of an unauthorized access device, and being a felon in unlawful possession of a firearm. On September 27, 2011, Judge Davis sentenced White to 84 months in a federal prison. Perhaps 7 years in a federal penitentiary in South Carolina will make him believe in the power of the federal government? Only time will tell.
Being under investigation for or being charged with fraud in state or federal court is a serious matter. Life as you know it can suddenly come to a halt. But you do not have to face those frightening moments alone. Our lawyers stand ready to help. If you are a federal or D.C. government employee and you are contacted by OIG and asked to submit to an interview, there are certain rights you can assert. Waiving those rights without consulting with a lawyer first may be detrimental to your ability to later fight the case. That is why it is important to hire a competent and experienced white collar criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about the government’s tactics and strategies that can fight for you and preserve and protect your rights.