A Germantown man has pleaded guilty to stealing federal funds intended for a foreign exchange program maintained by the U.S. Department of State.
Denon T. Hopkins, 49, of Germantown, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and engage in honest services wire fraud before U.S. Senior District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2018.
In total, Hopkins stole approximately $17,335 from the State Department. He also admitted that he used portions of the funds to pay kickbacks to the State Department official to retain his transportation contract, according to the Justice Department press release.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Hopkins was the operator and de facto owner of a transportation company that contracted with the State Department to provide bus and limousine services to Sports United Division, a State Department component devoted to sports diplomacy, which sponsored a foreign exchange program for emerging athletes and coaches from various countries.
The exchange program was managed by George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., through a federal grant and cooperative agreement with the State Department. During a time period when Hopkins received $247,200 in grant funds for legitimate transportation services, he and a State Department official conspired to steal portions of the federal money allocated to the exchange program by, among other things, falsifying vendor-related invoices and making fraudulent checks payable to Hopkins.
The unnamed State Department employee would schedule fake events for which vendors such as Hopkins would be paid. Some of the money went to pay for the State Department employee’s car loans, cell phone bills, and plane tickets, as well as kickbacks to vendors involved in the conspiracy.
Hopkins was accused of embezzling the funds from March 2015 to March 2016. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation. He faces a maximum sentence of five years when he is sentenced in April.
The guilty plea was announced on December 22, 2017, by the Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Inspector General Steve A. Linick of the U.S. Department of State.
Caption: The United States Department of Justice building.
Photo By Another Believer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons