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Prince George's County woman to plead guilty to stealing from D.C. charter school

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Local,DC,Education,Crime,Naomi Jagoda,Prince Georges County

A former temporary employee at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy in D.C. is expected to plead guilty to stealing more than $75,000 from the place where she once worked.

Darlene Ford, of Suitland, was charged in April with theft from a program receiving federal funds. Her plea agreement hearing is scheduled for Monday in federal court in D.C., court records show.

The Chavez Schools has campuses located in the Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights and Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhoods. According to a charging document, the entity received at least $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Education.

Ford was a temporary employee at the Chavez Schools during the early part of 2010 and had been placed at its finance department by a temporary accounting staffing firm, according to a charging document.

At the Chavez Schools, Ford was responsible for processing vendors' invoices for payment, maintaining accounting records to ensure that vendors were paid in a timely manner and presenting vendor invoices and supporting documents so that the finance director could sign the checks to pay the vendors.

But from January to March of 2010, Ford made out 10 checks from the Chavez Schools' Bank of America operating account to fictitious vendors. The checks were then cashed and used for the personal gain of Ford and/or her friends and associates, according to the charging document.

Ford carried out her scam by accessing the Chavez Schools' accounting system and changing the names on pending checks from entities that had actually done work for the schools to the names of fictitious vendors. After she made the changes, she signed the checks, forging the signature of the head of the schools' finance department. The checks to the fictitious vendors totaled $75,350, court papers state.

Ford is the second former D.C. charter school employee to be accused this year of stealing money from an educational institution where she worked. In January, Monique Murdock, former executive director of the now-closed Nia Community Public Charter School, was charged with embezzling $29,000 from the school, according to a court filing.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner