Crime, Fire + Courts

Plea deal for UCD embezzlement suspect

By April 14, 2011

WOODLAND — The former head of UC Davis’ Campus Violence Prevention Program, accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from program accounts, made a plea agreement Thursday that will keep her out of state prison.

Jennifer Beeman, 53, pleaded no contest to two felony counts of embezzling public funds and keeping false accounts, Yolo County Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral said. She faces probation and jail time at her June 2 sentencing in Yolo Superior Court.

Beeman also must pay $10,525 in restitution, the amount that authorities calculated she embezzled from the anti-violence program she led for 16 years, Cabral said.

“We believe that it’s a fair and appropriate disposition based on the amount of the loss,” said Cabral, who also noted Beeman’s lack of prior criminal offenses.

Beeman’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Teal Dixon, declined to comment on the plea agreement.

Authorities alleged that Beeman unlawfully took money from the violence prevention program’s accounts, including one earmarked for the annual “Take Back the Night” event, and used it for personal expenses such as paying her home mortgage. She retired in June 2009 during an investigation into the financial irregularities.

That fall, UCD officials announced that Beeman had, in reports to the federal government, inflated the number of forcible sexual assault offenses being reported on campus property from 2005 to 2007 in reports to the federal government. An audit of her travel expense reports revealed she had improperly reimbursed herself for hotel and mileage expenses from federal grant and department money.

Beeman repaid those funds to the university.

In December, Yolo County prosecutors issued a warrant charging Beeman with one count of embezzlement of public funds by a public official, three counts of misuse of public funds by a public official, four counts of false accounting and one count of fraudulently altering an account.

The criminal charges were unrelated to the inflated statistics.

Beeman’s no-contest plea was accepted by Judge Janet Gaard, who was assigned the case Wednesday after the previously assigned judge, Timothy Fall, recused himself from the case the day before. The reason for the recusal was not disclosed.

However, it led to some confusion Thursday for the attorneys in the case as well as Beeman, all of whom initially appeared in Fall’s courtroom along with several members of the media.

During a courtroom break, a bailiff informed the attorneys that the case had been moved to Gaard’s department, but no general announcement was made in Fall’s courtroom.

Court Executive Officer James Perry attributed the lack of notice to a “quick turnaround” in the wake of the recusal. He said in a typical situation, the case would have gone back to the arraignment court for a reassignment hearing, but that courtroom’s commissioner happened to be out Wednesday.

So a court clerk took the case to Gaard, the court’s assistant presiding judge, who agreed to hear the case the following day. It was recalendared sometime Wednesday, Perry said.

“The attorneys were not notified, which is not uncommon in a quick turnaround,” said Perry, who acknowledged the situation “could have been handled better.”

“It was one of those perfect storms,” Perry said. “There’s nothing wrong with the way it happened, but it’s not the best way it could have happened.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or (530) 747-8048.

Lauren Keene

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