Another financial crime at Tides Foundation

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A former official at a San Francisco charity has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he stole more than $132,000 over three years, court records show. Jason Ramon Sanders, 37, of San Francisco, who has served as philanthropic adviser of the Tides Foundation, was named in an indictment handed down Tuesday by the grand jury in San Francisco.

He faces a single count of theft within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, because the charity is in the Presidio. The foundation has funded environmental and social justice projects since 1976 and also provides philanthropic advice, according to its Web site.

The indictment accuses Sanders of stealing $132,600 from February 2005 to March 2008.

In a statement Wednesday, Brian Byrnes, managing director of the Tides Foundation, said a review of internal records in March uncovered evidence that an employee had diverted $45,000 a year over three years for his personal use.

"Within two days of being discovered the malfeasance was confirmed, the employee was dismissed and a police report was filed," Byrnes said. An independent auditor determined that money from only one fund was involved, and the amount was "quickly restored" through Tides' operating reserves, he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Thomas, who filed the charge, declined to comment Wednesday.

Reached by phone, Sanders paused before saying, "I don't know what you're talking about," then hung up. Sanders' attorney, Robert Shepard, confirmed that his client was fired from Tides earlier this year but declined to comment.

Sanders has coordinated the foundation's $10,000 Pizzigati Prize, an award given to honor those who excel in public interest computing.


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