It’s not just law firms that need to watch out for employees reaching into the cookie jar.
A former administrative assistant at American University Washington College of Law pleaded guilty on Thursday to stealing nearly $400,000 from the school over six years.
Martine Tavakoli, 49, will be sentenced in September for interstate transportation of stolen property. She faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison, although she is more likely to receive between 18 to 24 months, the U.S attorney’s office for the District of Columbia said in a written statement. Tavakoli has agreed to pay $399,529 in restitution.
Tavakoli, who had worked for the law school since 1981, was a coordinator for its law journals between 1998 and 2009. She was responsible for receiving payments but began funneling some of the money into a secret bank account around January 2003. She opened the account the in the name of American University Law Review with the university’s tax identification number. She used the stolen money to pay her credit card bills, rent and other expenses, according to prosecutors.
University officials confronted Tavakoli and she admitted to the theft. American University spokeswoman Camille Lepre said the school learned of the theft through an internal investigation, which was followed by an audit. Tavakoli could not be reached.