This week, it was announced that a program manager for the United States Department of State had pleaded guilty to stealing federal funds intended for a foreign exchange program maintained by her employer. 48-year-old Kelli R. Davis of Bowie, Maryland pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and engaging in honest services wire fraud. The defendant is now scheduled to be sentenced on August 24.
Admissions made in connection with the plea explain that Davis served as a Program Specialist with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges. The defendant also served as the Program Manager and Grant Officer Representative for the Sports Visitors Program. This program sponsored foreign exchanges for emerging youth athletes and coaches from several other countries.
The exchange program was managed by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia through a federal grant and agreement with the State Department. Between February 2011 and March 2016, the defendant conspired with others to steal portions of the federal money meant for the Sports Visitor Program. They did so by falsifying vendor-related invoices and making fraudulent checks payable to a government contractor, Denon Hopkins.
Hopkins supplied transportation services for the program. In total, Hopkins and Davis stole roughly $17,335 from the State Department. They both admitted that Hopkins used portions of the funds to pay kickbacks to Davis to retain his transportation contract. Also, Davis stole another $17,777 from the program over a period of several years. Further information has been provided here.