Former Webster University director gets probation after embezzling $375,000

ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis woman who embezzled $375,000 from a Webster University Institute was sentenced to probation and ordered to fill out a 65-page journal.

Sixty-two-year-old Deborah Pierce also was ordered Monday to pay back the money she embezzled while director of the Confucius Institute from 2007 to July 2015.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey ordered Pierce to use the journal to explain why she committed the crime, noting that she had no previous criminal background and no apparent drug or other addiction problems.

Autrey said he would read and approve it, and would show it to his gang court participants — people with “significant” criminal backgrounds that include drug offenses and violent crimes that strive to be like Pierce was, Autrey said.

“I think it’s important for those people to know about people like you,” Autrey said, as they think the only people who commit crimes are “poor, from the ’hood and black.”

Autrey said it looked like Pierce was “having fun and needed some extra cash.”  She pointed out that Pierce had no money to repay the school immediately.

Pierce pleaded guilty in September to transporting stolen property across state lines

Prosecutors say she used the money for personal expenses of herself and relatives.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,