Convicted Embezzler Linda Simwa Cons SF Symphony, UCSF

Nobody tells the whole truth on his or her résumé. Eager to land a new job, who among us hasn't omitted a firing here or a criminal conviction there? It's part of the grand charade known as the American workplace: Prospective hires pose as upstanding, industrious nonfelons. Employers pretend to pay a living wage.

Exactly what Linda Simwa wrote on a pair of job applications in 2005 remains unknown. Neither the San Francisco Symphony nor the University of California at San Francisco, both of which employed the 29-year-old Hayward resident until earlier this year, would divulge that information. But it seems plausible that Simwa, in seeking two positions that involved handling money, failed to mention she was on probation in Alameda County for embezzling funds from a private business in 2004.

Either that, or both symphony and school are pretty fucking stupid.

San Francisco police arrested Simwa in February on suspicion of filching more than $17,000 from the symphony while employed there as a bookkeeper. (She has pleaded not guilty.) Two days after turning herself in to the cops, she quit her job in the UCSF Department of Medicine, where as an administrative analyst she managed grants and financial accounts.

According to a police search warrant, an internal UCSF audit completed in August showed that four checks totaling almost $125,000 went missing from the department between June 2006 and January 2007. The money had been deposited into a "suspicious" personal bank account. Auditors found a copy of the biggest check — for $75,000 — in her desk, the warrant states. The district attorney is currently reviewing the case, UCSF spokeswoman Corinna Kaarlela says.

Simwa could not be reached for comment and her attorney, Phil Schnayerson, didn't return a call. Simwa is due to appear in court for the symphony case on Nov. 20.

At least in theory, UCSF conducts a criminal background check on potential employees who will control "cash and cash equivalents," and job seekers with a rap sheet are asked to fill out a so-called conviction record statement. The symphony's hiring process is hazier; requests for comment on Simwa went unanswered. Still, the bottom line is this: The symphony and UCSF alike hired a convicted embezzler who wound up — surprise, surprise — being accused of bilking each institution.

As we said, pretty fucking stupid.

 
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