Former UCSF Academic Program Officer Sentenced to 20 Months in Prison for Diverting $1.53 Million in Tuition Payments

Former academic program officer for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Sandra Le, has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for diverting $1.53 million in tuition payments into her personal bank accounts. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick on Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Le, a resident of San Francisco, directed students enrolled in UCSF School of Nursing post-masters and special studies certificate programs to make their tuition checks payable to her, a merchandiser she had purchased from, or to leave the payee line blank. This allowed her to either make the checks out to herself or her associates. Prosecutors, citing Le’s plea agreement, stated that she deposited the checks into her bank accounts, including those she shared with her associates, and used the funds for personal expenses such as luxury items, gambling, and home improvement.

To conceal her actions, Le created false records of payments and enrollment for her supervisors. The investigation into her activities began in May 2019 when she took a leave of absence amid increased scrutiny from UCSF’s audit and advisory services unit. The school was unable to reconcile tuition revenues with enrollment in the programs Le managed. The discovery of a tuition check made out to Le, presented by a student to her replacement, triggered further investigation. Dozens of students were interviewed, and Le’s bank accounts were reviewed, ultimately revealing that she had diverted nearly 300 checks totaling $1,536,089.64 between November 2013 and March 2019.

Le was indicted on August 26, 2021, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud counts on November 9, 2023. In a sentencing memorandum, Le’s attorney, Julia Jayne, attributed her client’s actions to depression, substance abuse, mental health breakdown, and her failure to share her experiences with anyone. Jayne requested home detention for Le, emphasizing the opportunity for rehabilitation and access to necessary medical care.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, however, urged Judge Orrick to sentence Le to two years in prison, arguing that her crimes were not the result of necessity or a momentary lapse in judgment. Instead, they were part of a deliberate, long-term plan to steal money from a public educational institution by exploiting her position.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. Sandra Le’s actions can be likened to a sneaky squirrel who cleverly diverts a stash of acorns from the communal tree into its own secret hiding spot. Just like Sandra, the squirrel takes advantage of its position of trust and authority to siphon off resources meant for the greater good, ultimately benefiting only itself.

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