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6 SFUSD employees charged with embezzling $15M

May 14, 2013 7:36:01 PM PDT
Six former San Francisco Unified School District employees are charged with embezzling $15 million. According to the district attorney, the scheme went on for 10 years, but how did they get away with it for so long?

Trish Bascom was in charge of the student support service division for San Francisco Unified School District. Bascom and her team worked with non-profits like Edgewood Center and San Francisco School Alliance to get needed medical and educational help for some students in the district.

The state and federal grants given to her division had to be used within a certain time period or risk losing those funds. District Attorney George Gascon said instead they put money into a slush fund.

"The money is never to be parked in some separate account and then you falsify documents and say the money was used for the intended purposes," said Gascon.

Supposedly, this went on from 2000 to 2010. Gascon says five employees from that division funneled money into their personal accounts. Bascom, herself, is said to have taken $87,000. A sixth employee -- the former assistant principal at Marina Middle School -- was paid $12,700 for work she never performed.

"We know there was money that went to hire people and pay bonuses that they didn't have coming to them," said Gascon.

According to the investigation, one of the non-profits, SF School Alliance, even used $250,000 to invest in the stock market and lost.

Terry Bergeson was not with this non-profit when this supposedly happened. She came onboard in 2010 when the investigation was just beginning.

"No comment on that. Just what I said, we are working with the DA and we are supportive of what the school district's efforts are and will continue to do so," said Bergeson.

"We are mortified at the thought that trusted employees would conceive of such a scheme to divert funds from the children for whom they're intended," said Superintendent Richard Carranza.

Bascom's attorney, Stuart Hanlon, says his client did nothing wrong. He said, "What's going to come out here is the incompetence of our elected officials, of the school board and who they represent or they hire to oversee what's going on in our district."

The former employees have all agreed to surrender to the authorities on Wednesday.


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