OIG: Office of Inspector General
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Investigative Reports

  U.S. Department of Justice

Roscoe C. Howard, Jr.
United States Attorney for the
District of Columbia

Judiciary Center
555 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530


August 20, 2003
For Information Contact Public Affairs
Julieanne Himmelstein   (202)514-8203

Day Care Center Operator Pleads Guilty to Stealing Money from Impact Aid Fund at U.S. Department of Education

Washington, D.C. - United States Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., Michael Rolince, Acting Special Agent In Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office, and Valerie M. Schwarzenbach, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General's Washington Field Office, jointly announced today that Beberly Cobham, 52, of Mitchellville, MD, entered a plea of guilty on August 14, 2003, before United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton to one count of Conspiracy to Receive Stolen Government Property and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering in connection with the theft of $995,136.17 from the United States Department of Education ("DOE"). Pursuant to the plea agreement, Cobham has agreed to a forfeiture judgment of $149,000 to DOE. She faces up to 51 months in prison under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines when she is sentenced at a date to be determined by the Court.

According to the facts presented by the government at the plea hearing, the stolen funds came from DOE's Impact Aid Program ("Impact Aid"), which is administered in Washington, D.C. Impact Aid is a major grant program which assists local school districts impacted by the presence of tax-exempt federal properties, such as Indian lands or military bases. In these districts, the federal properties reduce the local property tax base that ordinarily serve as a major source of school funding. Impact Aid is intended to help replace this lost revenue by distributing payments by wire directly to the bank accounts of the recipient school districts.

Cobham agreed to receive stolen funds into her business checking account maintained in the name of her day care center. A co-conspirator then submitted fraudulent paperwork to DOE. The bogus paperwork caused DOE to wire $995,136.17 of Impact Aid money, intended for a local school district in South Dakota, to Cobham's business checking account. Cobham then used the stolen government funds to purchase the property where her day care center was located.

In announcing today's guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Howard, Acting Special Agent In Charge Rolince and Special Agent in Charge Schwarzenbach commended the outstanding investigative work of FBI Special Agent Thomas Chadwick and DOE Special Agents George Baxavaneos and Gary Mitchell. They also praised Legal Assistants April Peeler and Shavonne Jennings, and Assistant United States Attorneys J. Patrick Rowan Jonathan N. Rosen.

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Last Modified: 02/28/2005