US Bureau of Prisons Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Property

Employee told contractors to move government equipment to his home

An employee at U.S. Bureau of Prisons headquarters in Washington, D.C., may be facing his own term in federal prison.

Brett Barrientos, a building management specialist for the federal prison bureau, admitted stealing from his agency, instructing contractors to move government-owned equipment to his Loudoun County home.

Barrientos pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government property. He faces sentencing in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, in July.

According to court records reviewed by News4, Barrientos asked contractors to move to his home more than a dozen items belonging to the US Bureau of Prisons, including: Televisions, General Electric microwave ovens, table saws, a gray metal bunk bed, diesel engines, ceiling fixtures, a black leather chair and a wooden desk.

The court records said Barrientos advised contractors to leave the government property in a “barn and a garage located on Barrientos land” in Purcellville, Virginia.

When reached by phone at a phone number listed in court records, Barrientos said the items in question were “surplus and trash.” Barrientos said, “I brought them home to use them. I didn’t do it to embezzle. What I did is not unheard of. And I returned everything.”

“It happens all the time," Barrientos said. "It happens everywhere.”

In the court filings, prosecutors specify some of the items were new and unused, including the microwaves and table saws.

Federal prosecutors, in filings with the federal court, said Barrientos’ theft cost the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at least $22,348.

In those filings, prosecutors also said Barrientos’ actions were “done knowingly and with the specific intent of violating the law.”

Barrientos worked at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons central offices on 1st Street NW in D.C. He told News4 he has been placed on administrative leave by the agency.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons manages dozens of federal prisons and more than 196,000 inmates nationwide, including the federal correctional facilities in Cumberland, Maryland, and Lee, Virginia. The agency employs more than 41,000 workers.

The theft charge to which Barrientos pleaded guilty is a federal crime. If sentenced to prison by a judge July 1, Barrientos could serve time in one of the agency’s federal prisons. The maximum sentence is 10 years.

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