6 Charged With Embezzling Millions From SF Schools
Six current and former San Francisco school district employees were charged Tuesday with embezzling about $15 million in grant money from the district, officials said.
The suspects face multiple felony grand theft and embezzlement counts for diverting federal and state grant money into hidden slush fund accounts through several nonprofits over a 10-year period, district attorney George Gascon and San Francisco Unified Schools Superintendent Richard Carranza announced at a news conference.
A three-year investigation found the six suspects, including a former associate superintendent and two former senior executives, used about $250,000 for personal expenses and another $500,000 for unauthorized salaries and bonuses, officials said.
About $6.7 million of the grant money went toward educational purposes, but not for what was specifically intended, Gascon said. One of the nonprofits involved even risked $250,000 in the stock market and lost, he said.
The scheme occurred during a period when the district faced a $113 million deficit, had to give layoff notices to teachers, and summer programs were being reduced or slashed altogether, Gascon added.
"We had people that were in positions of trust that were taking money, who were diverting this money for personal use," Gascon said. "This is one of the worst kinds of corruption."
About $4.7 million of the grant money has been recovered. The nonprofits charged about $1.2 million in administrative fees during that period, Gascon said.
"We are mortified at the thought that trusted employees would conceive of such a scheme to divert funds from the children for whom they are intended," said Carranza, who participated in the district’s probe in 2010 while he was a deputy superintendent.
Those facing charges include former associate superintendent Trish Bascom; former senior executive directors Linda Sue Lovelace and Meyla Ruwin; former principal administrative analyst Lilian Capuli; former assistant principal Mychel Navales and Betty Wong, a typist.
The suspects were expected to turn themselves in by Wednesday and could be arraigned as early as Thursday, prosecutors said. The investigation is ongoing.