GAMBLING

UCSF Admin Stole $1.5M,‘Spiraled into Depths of’ Drugs, Gambling

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Posted on: February 21, 2024, 12:41h. 

Last updated on: February 21, 2024, 12:52h.

A University of California San Francisco administrator stole $1.5 million in tuition payments as she “spiral[ed] into the depths of destructive behavior,” according to court filings.

Sandra Eileen Le, Sandi Le, UCSF, University of California San Francisco, UCSF School of Nursing
The University of California San Francisco where Sandra Eileen Le worked and from where she embezzled $1.5 million in the form of almost 300 student tuition checks. (Image: UCSF)

Outwardly, Sandra “Sandi” Eileen Le, 55, was a respectable middle-aged woman with a stable job as an academic program officer at the UCSF School of Nursing. But despite maintaining the illusion of control, when she wasn’t at work she was completely off the rails. That’s according to a sentencing memo from her lawyer, Julia Mezhinsky Jayne, who said Le was consuming “a variety of ‘designer’ or party drugs and gambl[ing] away all of her savings.”

Last week, a federal judge in San Francisco sentenced Le to one year and eight months in prison on three counts of wire fraud.

‘Abuse of Trust’

From 2013 through March 2019, the rogue administrator diverted almost 300 student tuition checks into her personal bank accounts. She told students to make the checks out to her or to give her cash. She also asked students to make some checks payable to RSG, a dealer in “jewelry, high-end purses, and other accessories,” of which she was a regular customer, according to prosecutors.

The scheme went on for so long because Le gained the students’ trust by “cultivating close relationships with them, such as by getting to know them and their families,” they added.

In addition to binging on drugs and gambling in her spare time, Le also blew the money on, “lavish” trips, jewelry, purses, and home improvements, per court documents.

Le’s scheme unraveled in May 2019 when auditors began looking into a financial hole in the school’s post-masters program. When they asked Le for her permission to examine her “work-related data,” she went home sick and never came back.

‘Deceived Her Whole Life’

Shortly afterward, a student handed a check made out to RSG for $9K to a school administrator who was filling in for Le. When asked to explain, the student said they were following Le’s instructions.

In her sentencing memo, Jayne wrote that Le’s substance abuse and gambling got out of hand after she discovered she wasn’t biologically related to the man she believed to be her father.

“She had been deceived her entire life. When she found out … this information completely derailed her,” Jayne wrote. “Ms. Le was spiraling out of control. She was consuming copious amounts of cocaine, prescription drugs, alcohol, methamphetamine, and LSD, which fueled an untreated gambling addiction,” she added.

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