San Diego

Former School District Employee Accused of Stealing 800 Money Orders

A former Sweetwater Union High School District employee is accused of depositing approximately 800 separate money orders made out to the district into her personal account, prosecutors say.

Danya Williams, 42, was charged Tuesday with three counts of embezzlement and is accused of stealing more than $50,000 from the school district, between June 2016 and November 2017.

She took 800 money orders, altered them and deposited them into her own personal bank account, Deputy District Attorney Kimball Denton said.

That money was meant to cover background investigations for potential employees.

Investigators with the Chula Vista Police Department said the money orders ranged from $52 to $75 per applicant.

“When managers began to notice the money orders were missing, the defendant took affirmative steps to cover her steps in hopes she would not be caught,” Denton said.

Williams was a 17-year employee with the district and worked in the human resources department.

“The defendant was in a position of trust,” Denton said. “She took advantage of that position by stealing over $53,000 from the district.”

Williams pleaded not guilty to three charges including embezzlement, embezzlement of public funds and grand theft by an agent of a business. Those charges carry a maximum of three years in prison based on the charges filed.

Judge Keri G. Katz ordered the defendant to stay 100 yards away from the school district office and handle only her own personal finances until the case is resolved.

Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong said his client hopes to resolve this case without going to trial.

“This is a very devastating thing to happen to her,” he said. “We want to do the right thing.”

Officers arrested Williams on March 5 and booked her into the Las Colinas Detention Facility. 

Williams was employed by the district from Oct. 2001 to Feb. 2018, when she resigned in light of the district's concerns with her practices, SUHSD spokesperson Manny Rubio said. 

Rubio said in light of the allegations against Williams, the school district updated their internal processes, checks and controls.

The next hearing in the case was scheduled for April 16 with a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 30.

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