Woman Steals $1.5 Million From Non-Profit Ballet Organization To Fund Gambling Habit

A 60-year-old woman was sentenced to 42 months on prison Wednesday after she embezzled $1.5 million from a Washington D.C.-area ballet school to fund her gambling habits.

Sophia Kim, who was the former treasurer and comptroller for the Universal Ballet Foundation, pled guilty to one charge of Bank Fraud last May, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. The organization Kim stole from ran the Kirov Academy of Ballet, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C.

She returned to court this week to be sentenced by a Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court of for the District of Columbia. Along with the prison sentence. Kim was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution and an additional $1.5 million in a forfeiture money judgement.

According to officials, Kum embezzled the seven-figure amount between January and September of 2018 through unauthorized check, debit and credit card transaction. She wrote 68 checks made out to “Cash” or to herself in amounts varying between $500 and $12,000. In total, the checks added up to $377,200.

She also made 197 debit withdrawals totaling $479, 283 and another 139 credit card charges for an additional $681,571. Nearly all of the credit and debit transactions were made at nearby MGM National Harbor, one of the largest casinos in Maryland and in the D.C. area.

This is Kim’s second conviction in the realm of financial crime. In 2012, she was convicted by a judge in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia for filing false tax returns and tax evasion while she was working as a bookkeeper at a different non-profit. She served two years in prison.

The ballet foundation hired her around 2017, shortly after Kim had completed her three years of supervised release from her prior crimes. She was fired in September 2018 for “performance issues.” In the days following her departure from the company, Kim told a co-worker that she stole $800,000 from the organization’s bank account, according to a report from the Miami Herald.




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