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Student charged with fraud

By Daily Bruin Staff

Jan. 6, 1997 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 7, 1997

CRIME:

Suspect was employed by School of Dentistry; thought to have
stolen some $50,000After five years of alleged embezzlement of
funds from the UCLA School of Dentistry, a former school official
was arrested last month in connection with the loss.

Joseph Castano, the former manager of the UCLA School of
Dentistry’s Faculty Group Dental Practice, was arrested Dec. 19 on
a warrant issued by the UCLA police department connecting him with
embezzled funds totalling $50,600.

Charged with one count of grand theft and a second count of
embezzlement, Castano was released on $100,000 bail shortly after
the arrest. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 18.

The suspect, who was also a part-time law student, was placed on
investigatory leave last February after a paper trail allegedly
charged his spouse’s dental surgery to the school. Dental school
officials also allege that Castano charged law school textbooks to
the school as well. Castano was fired from his position on March
29.

Following the discovery, internal auditors for the school were
alerted to the situation and launched an in-depth
investigation.

Auditors reported their findings to the police after completing
the investigation last August.

According to university police, Castano allegedly submitted
refund invoices for people who were never patients of the school or
for patients of the school who were not due refunds.

Castano then allegedly filtered those funds out among family and
friends, eventually landing them back in his own hands for personal
use, police said. UCLA and dentistry school officials will seek
reparation of the lost funds.

Officials said that the School of Dentistry takes the management
of public funds very seriously and will charge Castano to the
fullest extent of the law.

"There is no excuse for betraying the public trust," said school
Dean Rory Hume in a statement on the case. "The School of Dentistry
takes very seriously its role to ensure responsible employee
behavior," he added.

Shortly after the allegations, the school implemented several
changes in its accounting and management systems. All financial
transactions are now electronically monitored and responsibility
for cash management, refund approval and accounting are now
distinct jobs that will belong to separate individuals.

Dentistry administrators are now in the process of restructuring
the school manager’s job description and will hire an accounting
manager for the new position.

From Daily Bruin staff reports

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