DC Ballet School Exec Stole $800K to Feed Gambling Addiction, Feds Say - NBC Chicago
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DC Ballet School Exec Stole $800K to Feed Gambling Addiction, Feds Say

The executive was tasked with overseeing the finances of the Kirov Academy of DC

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    Woman Accused of Stealing From DC Ballet School

    A woman hired to to manage the books and finances at a major local ballet school is accused of fleecing the place, swiping the school's credit card at MGM National Harbor Casino and making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in total. Scott MacFarlane reports.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019)

    A woman hired to oversee the books and finances at a major Washington, D.C. ballet school founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is charged with defrauding the school, including by using its credit cards at MGM National Harbor casino.

    An FBI affidavit said Sophia Kim, also known as Sookyeong Kim Sebold, executed a scheme to personally enrich herself shortly after joining the Kirov Academy of DC as its comptroller.

    The affidavit said Kim took nearly $800,000 from the school because of “a gambling addiction and other financial problems.” Kim was the only employee of the Kirov Academy of DC who had access to the school’s debit card, according to court filings in her criminal case.

    A News4 I-Team review of other court cases shows Kim had a history of financial misconduct and faced prior accusations of gambling addiction. A federal jury convicted her in 2013 in Virginia for embezzling money from the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation and failing to report income on her income tax returns.

    Requests for comment to the Kirov Academy were not immediately returned.

    Court filings do not specify if Kirov Academy was aware of Kim’s prior conviction when it hired her to serve as the school's comptroller. The court filings specify she was hired in 2017 at Kirov.

    Kim had served a 24-month federal prison sentence for her 2013 criminal conviction.

    According to the FBI affidavit, Kim acknowledged using the Kirov Academy’s credit cards for personal gain. The affidavit said, “Kim admitted taking approximately $800,000 from [Kirov Academy] by using [Kirov Academy] debit and credit cards, and cash withdrawals from [Kirov Academy’s] BB&T Bank account to support KIM’s gambling.”

    The affidavit also said, “Kim wrote 68 unauthorized checks to “Cash” or to “Sophia Kim,” in whole-dollar amounts ranging from $500 to $12,000, totaling approximately $377,200. These checks were signed only by Kim, did not have supporting documentation, and were drawn on KAB’s BB&T Bank account, and two SunTrust Bank accounts. KIM cashed some of these checks at the BB&T Bank located at 1909 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.”

    The Kirov Academy in northeast D.C. was founded in 1990. According to its literature, “The founding patrons, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, opened the school with the vision of ‘Creating a World of Beauty through Heavenly Art.”

    Kim is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in D.C. court in late December. She faces a fraud charge. Court filings do not show if she has yet to enter a plea.