Former Federal Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Over $40k from Government

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By on July 16, 2019 in Court Cases with 0 Comments
Wooden judge's gavel with handcuffs on top of a spread of cash depicting a crime or guilty plea in court

A now former federal employee from the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) in Washington, D.C. recently pleaded guilty to stealing over $40,000 in government money during 2018 according to an announcement from the Justice Department.

According to court documents, Haroon K. Ullah, 41, admitted that he fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars in government funds by submitting falsified hotel invoices, falsified and inflated taxi and Uber receipts, and by billing the government for personal travel and for travel that had already been paid by third parties.

Ullah also admitted that he falsified a letter to appear to be from a real medical doctor in order to fly business class at the government’s expense due to a sore knee. The forged letter allowed him to obtain the business class upgrades, in some cases on international flights. He admitted to creating many of these false documents on his government issued laptop.

Ullah also admitted that he submitted falsified invoices and repair estimates to an insurance company regarding a claim for repairs to his home in Alexandria.

Headshot of Dr. Haroon K. Ullah
Dr. Haroon K. Ullah

A former employee of the U.S. Department of State, Ullah became a member of the Senior Executive Service when he joined USAGM as its Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). Ullah committed his crime from February through October 2018, while serving as CSO. Ullah is no longer employed with USAGM.

Ullah earned an annual salary of $165,000 per year in FY 2018 according to salary data from FedsDataCenter.com. He is also the author of the book Vying for Allah’s Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan, in which he “analyzes the origins, ideologies, bases of support, and electoral successes of the largest and most influential Islamic parties in Pakistan” according to the book’s description.

A portion of his position description that was formerly published on the USAGM website describes the work he did for the agency as follows:

Dr. Haroon Ullah oversees the Office of Policy and Research (OPR), including the elevation of USAGM’s policy engagement in the interagency, strategic planning and strategic initiatives functions and positioning within the broader U.S. government and with key stakeholders. In addition, he oversees USAGM’s Office of Internet Freedom (OIF), which focuses on the technological and innovative efforts to circumvent internet censorship around the globe. Ullah’s main responsibility is to lead USAGM to become a more strategically relevant agency within the national security, foreign affairs, internet censorship and global media spheres.

Ullah pleaded guilty to theft of government money and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on October 11. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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