Friday, January 27, 2006
Former Georgetown University Medical Center employee Adriana Santamaria and her sister, Maria Cabrales, were sentenced to 20 and 15 months, respectively, for defrauding the Center and federal health programs of over $580,000. Santamaria was responsible for the financial affairs of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, including the disbursements for research grants administered through the department. Among other ways in which Santamaria siphoned money from the med center was by paying her sister Maria and her husband honoraria for scientific lectures that never took place, as described in the U.S. Attorney's Office's press release (here):
According to the government's evidence, between May 1998 and October 2001, the two defendants, Adriana Santamaria and Maria Cabrales, conspired to obtain money from the Department by fraud through a variety of schemes. In one such scheme, Santamaria submitted authorization for the payment of honoraria in the names of Cabrales and her husband for scientific lectures they never gave nor had any capacity to give. Santamaria had no authority to engage lecturers on behalf of the Principals, let alone the services of her relatives, who were in no way qualified to speak on any subjects related to the fields of microbiology and immunology. Upon payment, Santamaria and Cabrales would deposit the Department checks in accounts in the names of Cabrales and her husband. In turn, Cabrales would pay Santamaria by check a share of the proceeds. In sum, Santamaria submitted 37 fraudulent expense authorization forms to the Georgetown Accounts Payable Department, resulting in a total of $290,000 in honoraria paid in the names of Cabrales and her husband for lectures never, in fact, given. In return, during the same period of time, Santamaria received $69,052.31 from the Allfirst joint accounts of Cabrales and her husband.
One would think that 37 payments for non-existent lectures would have been noticed by someone, but then who pays attention to those things anyway, it's the coffee and doughnuts that are the main attraction. (ph -- thanks to Delia Johnson for passing this along).