Former Accounting Employee Pleads Guilty To Stealing More Than $75,000 From Charter School-Temporary Worker Issued And Cashed Checks To Fictitious Vendors-
WASHINGTON - Darlene Ford, 46, of Temple Hills, Md., pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from the theft of more than $75,000 from a charter school where she worked as a temporary accounting employee.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, and Steven Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Mid-Atlantic Region.
Ford pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of
theft from a program receiving federal funds. The Honorable Robert L. Wilkins scheduled sentencing for Sept. 16, 2013. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the parties have agreed that the applicable range is 12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $30,000.
Under the plea agreement, Ford must pay $75,350 in restitution to the César Chàvez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy. She also is subject to the forfeiture of a money judgment of the same amount.
According to the government’s evidence, Ford was a temporary employee at the César Chàvez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy. She was placed at the school’s finance department by a temporary accounting staffing firm from January 2010 until March 2010. Her responsibilities included the processing of invoices from vendors, including presenting documents to the Director of Finance for signature on payments.
Public charter schools are independently-operated public schools that are open to all District of Columbia residents. César Chàvez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy received various government funds, including funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
While in the finance department, Ford carried out her scheme by accessing the school’s accounting system and changing names listed on pending checks. She replaced the names of legitimate vendors with those of fictitious vendors and then forged the signature of the Director of Finance on the checks. Ten such checks were made out to fictitious vendors, totaling $75,350. These checks were then cashed and used for the benefit of Ford and/or her friends and associates.
In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge Parlave, Chief Lanier, and Special Agent in Charge Anderson commended the work of those who investigated the case. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Diane Hayes and Krishawn Graham, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lionel André, who is prosecuting the matter.