A former UC Davis employee accused of embezzlement and theft of more than $38,000 dollars from the university surrendered to authorities at the Yolo County Jail in Woodland on Sunday.
Sueanna Gaines, also known as Susie Cauchi, of Yuba City, was freed after posting a $10,000 bond, and is scheduled to appear in Yolo County Superior Court in Woodland on Nov. 11, according to the District Attorney’s office.
“The campus takes this loss seriously,” said Bob Loessberg-Zahl, assistant executive vice chancellor at UC Davis. “We have acted with the department management to ensure that procedures are followed to prevent any such incident in the future.”
Gaines worked as accounting and purchasing coordinator for Intercollegiate Athletics from May 1998 until being placed on investigatory leave Oct. 21, 2008.
She then left university employment in early December.
The warrant for Gaines’ arrest alleges she made unauthorized use of a departmental gas credit card and purchasing card and misappropriated cash deposits and receipts from sales of used cell phones.
The UCD Police Department, UCD Employee and Labor Relations unit and Internal Audit Services each conducted an investigation before the police department requested the Yolo County District Attorney issue the warrant for Gaines on Aug. 1, 2009.
IAS’ investigation cautions that “the actual loss to the university from the unauthorized personal purchasing card transactions and misappropriation of cash deposits is likely substantially greater than what was definitively established during the course of our investigation. However, we cannot quantify the extent of the loss due to the lack of documentation and controls over purchase card transactions and cash handling within the ICA Business Office.”
Gaines’ warrant contains charges of one count each of theft (California Penal Code 484a), grand theft (487a), and embezzlement (503) and four counts of embezzlement as an employee in control of property (508).
According to the IAS investigation, Gaines’ alleged misuse of fuel cards was discovered when a supervisor in the ICA business office reviewed fuel card statements and found excessive purchases on one of the cards maintained by Gaines. ICA’s internal policy was to use the fuel cards only for university vehicles and Gaines was never issued a university vehicle for regular use.
ICA has taken steps to prevent this type of incident from recurring. An audit of departmental controls identified violations of university policies that are supposed to provide a system of checks against misuse of university funds and properties: separation of duties, physical security of cash and general accountability, Loessberg-Zahl said.
“They’re making sure that someone is reviewing the accounts in detail on a regular basis,” Loessberg-Zahl said. “They hired a full-time budget manager from the department who is focused completely on the department’s finances.”
ICA director Greg Warzecka said the budget analyst was hired shortly after the violations were realized, and is providing additional oversight and assurance of separation of duties.
“The separation of duties is between the person initiating the purchase order, the person receiving the merchandise, and the person approving the payment,” Warzecka said. “One person initiates the purchase, and they cannot be the same person who approves it.”
Gaines will stand trial in Woodland on Nov. 17, and is presumed innocent until found guilty.
The Internal Audit Services investigation report shows the total amount
Gaines allegedly embezzled and/or misappropriated to be $38,870
dollars. The allegations include: $17,324 in personal fuel card usage
dating from November 2004 to October 2008; $7,512 in personal
purchasing card transfers from July 2006 to October 2008; $9,868 in
misappropriated cash deposits from July 2007 to October 2008; and
$4,166 in misappropriated cell phone sales proceeds.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.