Investigators: Worker accused of stealing $26k from research program acted alone

Leah Douglas, 27, charged with theft by public servant

SAN ANTONIO – Leah Douglas, 27, a former employee accused of stealing more than $26,000 from a research program at the University Health Science Center at San Antonio, acted alone, according to investigators.

"This was a rogue employee who decided to make bad choices," said Mike Parks, chief of the University of Texas System Police Department. "We have 5,000 honest and loyal employees to the university."

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Douglas worked for UTHSCSA's psychiatry department, issuing $100 reimbursements to people who participated in research studies.

Parks said a routine internal audit raised some red flags, but it wasn't until his department conducted a thorough investigation that the full scope of the crimes came to light.

"She was falsifying receipts and documents, so it looked, on face value, legitimate. The numbers added up," he said.

The affidavit stated that the thefts occurred between August 2012 and this past February.

Douglas resigned from her position in March, the affidavit stated.

She was arrested on a charge of theft by a public servant and booked into the Bexar County jail late Wednesday night.

By the following morning, though, she had been released after posting a $20,000 bond.

During the investigation, police seized Douglas' personal bank records and discovered where a large portion of the money went, Parks said.

The bank records showed she used automatic teller machines to make 37 cash deposits into her checking account -- totaling more than $16,000 -- between August 2012 and March 2013, the affidavit stated.

However, Parks said when Douglas was arrested, she had no money in her account.

Still, he said his goal is to make her pay it all back.

"This is one person who decided to exercise and use extremely poor judgment," he said.

Parks said UTHSCSA has systems in place to detect this type of dishonesty, and those systems worked.

He said the theft should not reflect negatively on the integrity of the institution's research programs.

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