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Press Release

Former Public University Administrator Sentenced To 20 Months For Diverting $1.5 Million In Student Tuition Payments

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Sandra (Sandi) Eileen Le was sentenced today to 20 months in prison, and ordered to pay at least $1,536,089.64 in restitution for wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. The sentence was handed down by the Hon. William H. Orrick, Senior U.S. District Judge.

Le, 55 of San Francisco, was indicted on August 26, 2021, and pleaded guilty on November 9, 2023, to three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. According to the plea agreement, Le admitted she was the Academic Program Officer for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing’s Post-Master’s and Special Studies Certificate Programs. She abused her position by directing students in those programs to have their tuition checks made out to her, or to a merchandiser she purchased from, or to leave the checks’ payee line blank so she could then make out the checks to herself or her associates. She then deposited the checks into her personal bank accounts, including joint bank accounts that she shared with associates, and used the funds to pay for luxury items from that merchandiser. She also used the funds for gambling, home improvement, and other personal expenses. Le disguised and concealed her misconduct by generating false records of payments and student enrollment for her supervisors at the university. The investigation into her conduct revealed that Le diverted almost 300 such checks from November 2013 through March 2019, totaling $1,536,089.64.

According documents filed by the government in connection with sentencing, the investigation began in May 2019, when Le took a leave of absence while facing increased scrutiny from UCSF’s Audit and Advisory Services Unit, given the school’s inability to reconcile tuition revenues with enrollment in the programs Le administered. The government’s filings describe how, while Le was on leave, a program student provided Le’s replacement a tuition check written out to Le-- the student explained that the payment was per Le’s instructions. Thereafter, investigators conducted interviews of dozens of program students and completed a forensic examination of Le’s bank accounts. This and additional other investigation revealed the extent of Le’s fraud, and corresponding harm to the UCSF School of Nursing community.

Judge Orrick ordered Le to surrender on or before May 10, 2024, to begin serving her 20 month prison term, and found that restitution was at least $1,536,089.64, with the exact amount to be ordered after a further hearing. In addition to the prison term, Judge Orrick also ordered Le to serve a three-year period of supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel N. Kassabian is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Veronica Hernandez. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the UCSF Police Department.

Updated February 16, 2024