A Health and Human Services Department employee was sentenced by a federal judge this week to six months in prison for using government charge cards to buy more than $114,000 worth of personal items, according to a Justice Department release.
Justice said Jihan S. Cover, a purchasing agent with the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute from 2006 through 2011, used her government charge card to make hundreds of personal purchases totaling $114,494. She spent $16,000 on Amazon and $29,000 in payments to a variety of payday loan vendors, Justice said. She also made $47,000 in payments to personal accounts created on PayPal, the department said.
“In addition, Cover admitted that she further sought to conceal her actions by submitting various dispute forms to the bank servicing her purchase cards, claiming that she did not recognize certain charges or did not authorize them, when, in fact, she knowingly made or caused to be made the personal charges,” Justice’s statement said.
U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger from the Western District of North Carolina issued the sentence Tuesday. Along with Cover’s six-month imprisonment, the Justice Department said she also will have to serve three years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement. In addition, Cover will have to make restitution to Health and Human Services.
“She certainly is sorry for her actions,” Cover’s attorney, Corey Atkins, told the Ashville, N.C., Citizen Times. “I think her record as an employee at NIH is exemplary, barring this unfortunate series of events. Jihan was going through a very tough time in her life at this period.”
The case was prosecuted by Eric Olshan of the Justice Department’s criminal division’s public integrity section, and was investigated by the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.