A parking attendant who was part of a scheme that stole at least $400,000 in lot fees from the Smithsonian Institution’s aircraft museum in Chantilly pleaded guilty Thursday to theft of public money.
Freweyni Mebrahtu, 45, of Sterling is the second person to admit pocketing the $15 parking fee paid by thousands of visitors to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from October 2009 to July 2012, according to the plea she entered in federal court in Alexandria.
The Chantilly center, an annex of the National Air and Space Museum, includes the space shuttle Discovery in its collection.
Mebrahtu worked about six days a week for Parking Management Inc., a contractor, and masked the money she was stealing by suppressing the vehicle count at the lot, prosecutors said.
She lowered the tally of fees paid by unplugging the electronic vehicle counter in the booth she manned and by holding on to a proof of purchase ticket that should have gone to drivers to be displayed on their vehicles in the lot, court records show.