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9/27/2007
03:05 PM
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Network Appliance Exec Charged With Expensing Son's Tuition

A manager for the storage company faces a federal wire fraud charge for allegedly embezzling $90,000, including nearly $13,000 to pay her son's private school tuition.

An executive with Network Appliance has been charged with wire fraud for allegedly embezzling $90,000.

Part of the allegedly embezzled money included $12,900 that she used to pay for her son's tuition at a private high school in San Francisco, according to court records released Wednesday.

Bernadette Escue, 41, of San Francisco, is the former global transportation manager at Network Appliance. She faces federal wire fraud charges, which were filed in federal district court in San Jose, Calif. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. She also would be forced to pay restitution to her former employer.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Jose, Escue worked in the Sunnyvale, Calif., facility while at Network Appliance, sometimes known as NetApp. The government contends that between February 2001 and October 2003, Escue fraudulently charged more than $90,000 in personal expenses on the company's corporate credit cards, including $12,900 for her son's tuition at the Drew School. The so-called fraudulent expense was charged in September of 2003.

All of the charges totaling $90,000 were racked up between February 2001 and October 2003, according to the government.

Network Appliance couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Escue is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Oct. 11 for her arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Richard Seeborg.

Network Appliance is a unified storage solutions company with about 6,600 employees. A Fortune 1,000 company with 113 worldwide offices, it reported fiscal year 2007 revenue of $2.8 billion.

The FBI investigated the case.

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