Loudoun County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large)’s former Chief of Staff, Jeanine Arnett, and her husband Diallo have pled guilty to embezzling more than $150,000 from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a national service sorority and DC-based nonprofit, while Arnett was executive director.
Arnett joined Randall’s office as Chief of Staff at the beginning of Randall’s first term in 2016. She left Randall’s office in July 2017 to take a job as Executive Director at Delta Sigma Theta, the largest Black American women’s organization in the world with more than 300,000 members around the world, and second only to the NAACP in size among organizations representing Black Americans.
Arnett subsequently left the job at the sorority in August 2019, and returned to Loudoun County to take her old job again. As of April 20, Arnett is again gone from Randall’s office.
In a statement published Thursday, April 29, Randall said she was unaware of the issues at the sorority until she was contacted Tuesday, April 20, by the sorority, informing her that Arnett had been under investigation for the past year by the FBI, and that the sorority would be issuing a press release. Randall did not disclose this publicly until April 29.
After leaving the job at the sorority, Arnett had been given a severance package, and a routine reference check with the sorority before hiring her back to the Chair’s office returned a clean record of employment.
“Once learning of the details of the investigation, I confronted Ms. Arnett who confirmed the major facts as they had been related to me by Ms. [Beverly] Smith,” Randall wrote. Smith is the president and CEO of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “After contacting the County Administrator and the County Attorney Ms. Arnett was placed on Administrative Leave pending an investigation. At my request, a review of county finances as they relate to my office was completed. No irregularities nor improprieties were revealed. I learned of the matter at approximately 9:00 AM, and Ms. Arnett left the county building at approximately 1:00 PM. She will not be returning to employment in my office.”
She wrote Arnett’s “improprieties” at the sorority did not impact the operations of Loudoun County government.
“Although I am deeply upset by this revelation, I am also aware that Ms. Arnett has three school-age children, thus I plan no further public comments on this issue,” Randall stated.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia on April 28 announced that the Arnetts, in separate hearings, had pled guilty to charges stemming from that embezzlement. The Arnetts admitted that Jeanine Arnett misappropriated more than $150,000 from Delta Sigma Thetas’s bank accounts. That included unauthorized and fraudulent charges for personal items and expenses at, among other places, Amazon, Avis Rent a Car, Century Twenty-One, Coach, GEICO, and T-Mobile. In addition, the Arnetts used the Square Cash App to make nine transactions to transfer $14,162.50 to their account.
According to court filings, the sorority terminated Arnett as Executive Director in August 2019, and in September 2019 discovered irregularities with its credit card accounts, launching an internal audit. After officers of the sorority confronted Jeanine Arnett, she admitted she and her husband had defrauded the organization, and Diallo Arnett did the same in an email to the organization a few days later.
“While Delta Sigma Theta and its members were committed to a mission of public service, the defendants were committed to a mission of personal benefit, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars to use for their own pleasure,”stated Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips.“The defendants—and others who steal from non-profit organizations to enrich themselves—will be caught, prosecuted, andpunished for the damage they cause.”
“The Arnetts pleaded guilty to stealing money from this historic women’s organization and used the funds for their own benefit,” stated James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “Their selfish actions not only betrayed the dedicated members, but also dishonored the core mission and values of the sorority.”
Sentencing is scheduled for July 29. The charge carries a statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, or twice the pecuniary gain or loss of the offense.
According to U.S. District Court filings, the Arnetts filed for bankruptcy in January 2016, as Randall was beginning her first term in office, and had previously filed for bankruptcy in Maryland in 2005.