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UC Berkeley employee accused of embezzling

By David Scharfenberg, Daily Planet staff
Wednesday May 29, 2002

UC Berkeley police have arrested an employee and an off-campus accomplice for allegedly stealing $250,000 in BART tickets from a university transportation office and reselling them on the street. 

The employee, 29-year-old Kimya McFadden, was an administrative assistant at the campus-run Berkeley Transit/Ridesharing/Parking Store. The joint city-university venture sells discounted transit passes to city and UC Berkeley employees. 

McFadden, hired in March 2001, was temporarily assigned as a supervisor overseeing cashiering operations in September 2001, where she remained until her May 10 arrest. 

McFadden began stealing BART tickets in April or May of 2001, according to UC Berkeley Police Capt. William Cooper, and funneling them to 26-year-old Zikomo J. Robinson of Oakland, who resold them below face value and gave McFadden a cut. 

“He was doing most of the selling, it looked like,” Cooper said, noting that $48 tickets went for $32, and $32 tickets went for $20 to $25. 

The university does not believe any other employees were involved, but it is investigating the possibility of a second suspect outside the office who may have resold tickets. 

Cooper said the university has already put some temporary controls in place at the TRiP Store. The shop has limited the number of people with access to ticket inventories, changed the way tickets are distributed to cashiers for sales and established stronger procedures to account for each cashier’s allotment. 

“We’re going to make sure the holes are plugged up,” Cooper said, adding that the university may make adjustments after a full audit of the store is complete. 

TRiP store employees referred all requests for comment to Cooper. 

BART initially received word of black market ticket sales earlier this year and traced the stubs back to UC Berkeley, Cooper said. The university then pursued the investigation and arrested the two suspects. 

McFadden, a Richmond resident, is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday. UC Berkeley police arrested her on suspicion of embezzlement, conspiracy and possession of stolen property. Officers picked up Robinson on suspicion of conspiracy and possession of stolen property. 

Cooper said the charges the district attorney will actually file are unclear. Calls to the district attorney’s office were not returned by the Planet’s deadline.