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Written By Thomas Ahearn

EducationA former research administrator at UC Berkeley who had a prior conviction for embezzlement allegedly stole “tens of thousands of dollars” from the university, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. The full story is available at

The Chronicle reports Alameda County prosecutors have charged 36-year-old Sonia Waters with nine felony counts of grand theft, attempted grand theft, embezzlement of public funds, and attempted embezzlement. Waters – who was fired from her $73,930-a-year job at UC Berkeley – is free on $75,000 bail and will appear in court July 14.

Hired by UC Berkeley as an assistant in 2003, Waters left to work for The Hartford financial and insurance company in San Francisco, pleaded guilty to embezzling from the company in 2009 while she was back working for UC Berkeley, and was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay the Hartford $32,000, according to the Chronicle report.

UC Berkeley was unaware of the prior conviction and a UC Berkeley spokeswoman told the Chronicle: “We have identified a hole in our practices that can lead to some employees hired in non-sensitive positions – those not requiring criminal background checks – moving to sensitive positions without undergoing background checks. We will certainly be looking to improve our oversight in this area and will put procedures in place to address this issue.”

According to ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), embezzlement is an equal opportunity crime that affects employers of all sizes as well as profit and non-profit firms: “There is no one profile of an embezzler. Embezzlers can be young or old, male or female, well-educated or high school dropouts. Disguised as perfect employees, embezzlers are very difficult to detect.”

The best way for employers to avoid embezzlers is to not hire them in the first place through the use of due diligence background checks that may discourage a potential embezzler or uncover past criminal acts.. For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) at, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email [email protected].

For more ESR News blogs about the need for background checks in the education field, please visit


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