A Department of Health and Human Services employee has been sentenced to prison for theft of government funds, the Department of Justice and HHS Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Special Investigations Branch announced this week.
According to court documents, Jihan Cover worked as a purchasing agent with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Career Institute, a subdivision of HHS, where she was responsible for procuring authorized items and services for the institute using government credit cards.
Between June 2009 and December 2010, Cover used the government-issued credit cards to make over 250 unauthorized personal transactions, totaling nearly $115,000, plea documents state. That figure includes approximately $16,000 spent at Amazon.com on toys, exercise equipment, books, clothes and various other personal items as well as $29,000 spent to pay off balances she accrued with cash advance and payday loan vendors.
Plea documents state that Cover also spent more than $47,000 through personal PayPal accounts. To conceal the unauthorized PayPal expenditures, Cover created additional PayPal accounts to resemble a legitimate NIH/NCI vendor. To further conceal her scheme, Cover also submitted dispute forms with the bank controlling her government credit card, claiming she did not authorize the purchases, when she in fact did make the purchases.
Cover was sentenced to six months in prison.
The case was investigated by the HHS Office of Inspector General and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Eric Olshan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.