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Two former special agents at Commerce plead guilty to false claims, fraud

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Local,DC,Crime,Scott McCabe,Commerce

Two former special agents with the Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, pleaded guilty Tuesday to submitting bogus claims for relocation expenses and for work they did not perform.

Rachel Ondrik, 35, of Frederick, and Kirk Yamatani, 38, of Ashburn, resigned from their positions in March as part of their plea agreements, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland.

Todd Zinser, inspector general for the Department of Commerce, said the guilty pleas are a result of authorities' efforts to "hold law enforcement agents accountable for years of misconduct."

"In addition to the fraud perpetrated on the U.S. taxpayers, these now former employees also retaliated by carrying out a destructive campaign of disparagement and false allegations against the Office of Inspector General," Zinser said in a released statement.

According to court papers, Ondrik and Yamatani transferred from the Department of Commerce OIG's Atlanta office to D.C. in 2009, and authorized relocation benefits, including a house-hunting trip, travel and temporary living expenses.

Ondrik admitted to submitting a voucher of $4,058 for a 10-day housing hunting trip with her husband that she did not take. She also submitted $34,000 in expenses, more than $20,000 over what the federal travel regulations allowed.

Between 2009 and 2011, Ondrik also committed several instances of time and attendance fraud for a loss to the agency of $14,000.

Yamatani also filed a voucher for $3,500 claiming that he and his wife took a 10-day trip to look for a house when he did not. In all, he submitted three false vouchers submitting $36,000 in reimbursements. He also admitted to and attendance fraud, claiming to have worked hundreds of hours that he did not work between 2009 and 2011.

The defendants and the prosecutors have agreed that if the federal court accepts the plea agreement Ondrik and Yamatani will each be sentenced to a term of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $28,000. Each will be required to pay $14,000 in restitution to the government.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 19 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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