Employees Accused of Stealing Smithsonian Parking Fees

Monday, Aug 6, 2012  |  Updated 9:38 PM EDT
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the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

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Three parking lot attendants at the Smithsonian's Air and Space annex in Chantilly, Va., have been charged with stealing at least $400,000 in parking fees.

The three were arrested at the end of their shifts at the Udvar-Hazy Center Saturday. They face charges in federal court in Alexandria that carry up to 10 years in prison.

The two women, Freweyni Mebrahtu of Sterling and Genete Yigzu of Alexandria, and one man, Meseret Terefe of Silver Spring, Md., were employees of Smithsonian parking contractor PMI.

A court affidavit alleges the three began stealing in 2009, shortly after PMI took over management of the lot. Visitors pay a $15 fee, and the affidavit states all three were caught on camera unplugging vehicle counters so the stolen funds would not be missed.

Mebrathu and Terefe each stole more than $4,000 from the Smithsonian on some days, according to court documents.  Yigzu is accused of stealing as much as $1,185 one day.

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