On Friday, December 22, 2017, it was announced that a local transportation operator had pleaded guilty to stealing federal funds intended for a foreign exchange program operated by the United States Department of State. 49-year-old Denon T. Hopkins of Germantown, Maryland pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and engage in honest services wire fraud. The defendant is now scheduled to be sentenced on April 6, 2018.
According to statements made in connection with the guilty plea, Hopkins served as the operator and de facto owner of a transportation company, which was contracted with the State Department. The company provided bus and limousine services to Sports United Division, which is a State Department component dedicated to sports diplomacy. Sports United sponsored a foreign exchange program for emerging athletes and coaches from other countries.
The exchange program was managed by George Manson University. Hopkins received $247,200 in grant funds for legitimate transportation services. The defendant and a State Department official conspired to steal some of the federal money allocated to the exchange program. The defendant and his co-conspirator falsified vendor-related invoices and made fraudulent checks payable to Hopkins. In total, the defendant stole $17,335 from the State Department.
Hopkins admitted to using a portion of the funds to pay kickbacks to the State Department official to retain his transportation contract. Again, Denon T. Hopkins is scheduled to be sentenced on April 6, 2018. Further details can be found here.