U.S. Attorney’s Office charges former campus employee with embezzling more than $300,000

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Update 11/18/15: This article has been updated to reflect new information from U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Abraham Simmons.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged former UC Berkeley employee DeSondra Ward on Monday with five counts of embezzlement, alleging that she stole more than $308,000 from UC Berkeley since 2010.

Ward allegedly embezzled between $48,000 and $80,000 annually in UC Berkeley funds, airfare and other travel expenses from 2010-14, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The allegations were first tweeted by Henry K. Lee of KTVU.

According to Abraham Simmons, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, no indictment — a formal accusation of a crime — has been filed yet in the case, even though felony charges have been leveled.

Because they are felony counts, there is a time period pursuing to which there should be indictment, unless the defendant waives the indictment,” Simmons said about the case.

Ward, a campus employee since 2007, first worked as an administrative assistant for the Lawrence Hall of Science’s Full Option Science Program, or FOSS, but was reassigned as a financial analyst with the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2011, where she was given budget and finance responsibilities for FOSS and other programs, according to court documents. FOSS, a research-based science program at the Lawrence Hall of Science, was created with support from the National Science Foundation, and the Lawrence Hall of Science receives about 25 percent of its annual budget in the form of federal funds.

Ward’s job was terminated in March, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

If convicted, Ward would be required to forfeit the $308,817.58 she is accused of embezzling. Ward’s first court appearance is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 at the Oakland Courthouse.

Staff writer Maxwell Jenkins-Goetz contributed to this report.

Katy Abbott is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @katyeabbott.