Former government employee pleads guilty to defrauding Department of Defense of more than $1 million

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Mathews woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding the federal government of more than $1.4 million in a long-running time and attendance fraud scheme.

Court documents say 52-year-old Michelle M. Holt was previously employed as a federal employee for the Department of Defense, working as a secretary for the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. She was a salaried employee on the General Schedule (GS) grade for the federal civilian workforce and was entitled to overtime pay, other forms of holiday and annual leave and premium pay for any federal holidays worked if authorized by her employer.

A law enforcement investigation determined that from December 2001 to July 2018, Holt falsely claimed more than 42,000 hours in unauthorized overtime that she did not work, as well as other amounts of unauthorized holiday leave, sick leave and annual leave, all amounting to losses to the U.S. of $1,460,262.43.

In recent years, Holt’s overtime pay was more than double that of her regular salary. Records say she accomplished the fraud by making manual retroactive adjustments to protected computer time and attendance systems to add overtime, reverse leave taken and reverse holiday leave. In doing so, she used another employee’s log-in information without that employee’s knowledge or authorization.

Hold pleaded guilty to charges of computer fraud and theft of government property and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when sentanced on March 13.

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