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Berkeley School Safety Officer Charged with Identity Theft

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday February 28, 2012 - 12:55:00 PM

A Berkeley High School safety officer has been charged with one count of felony identity theft for allegedly stealing bank account information from a special education teacher and using it to pay his utility bills.

William "Billy" Keys Jr., 41, was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday and is scheduled to return to court Monday to enter a plea. He is free on $10,000 bail.

Keys, who graduated from Berkeley High and has worked for the school for about 20 years, was arrested Thursday after he allegedly admitted to Berkeley police Officer Darren Rafferty that the account numbers that he used to pay his bills were not his own. 

Rafferty said in a probable cause statement filed in court that Keys initially claimed that he hadn't done anything wrong but "eventually admitted that he needed to take responsibility for what had happened" and wanted to repay the special education teacher for the money that had been taken. 

Rafferty said that when he searched Keys' apartment in Oakland, he found marijuana and equipment for the indoor cultivation of marijuana, but that Keys told him that his roommate had a medical marijuana card. 

Berkeley Unified School District spokesman Mark Coplan said, "Everyone is in a state of shock because he is a highly respected individual in our community." 

Coplan said, "We care about him and are hoping for the best possible outcome for him in this difficult situation." 

Keys is on administrative leave, Coplan said. He said Keys and other school safety officers counsel and monitor troubled students in addition to providing security. 

"They talk to students to help them succeed," Coplan said. 

Berkeley police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said she could not provide further information on the case.