The executive director of a federally funded program designed to combat inner city crime here pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday to embezzlement charges in connection with the misappropriation of about $50,000 in program money.
Charles Berrin, who was responsible for coordinating funding for nine separate crime prevention projects run by a now defunct umbrella organization called Ward One, Inc., formally pleaded guilty to two embezzlement counts totaling $800. Prosecutors said he also issued checks totaling $17,630 to himself in addition to his $21,000 annual salary and on one occasion used anticrime funds to help pay for mirrors in his home.
Berrin also used federal funds to pay a $150 dental bill, a $165 personal telephone bill and a $1,500 trip to Atanta for himself and a friend, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Nearly all of the money used by the Ward One, Inc. program, designed to involve city residents in measures to prevent crime, came from a $250,000 grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert B. Cornell said in court yesterday the grant was terminated last April after federal auditors found the agency's books in such bad shape that it was difficult to determine how the money was spent and whether funds were used properly. Cornell said about $50,000, including the $17,630 in checks issued to Berrin, could not be accounted for.
Berrin, 36, pleaded guilty to embezzling $500 on July 23, 1979, and $300 on Feb. 11, 1980, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
He faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and an $11,000 fine. Judge Howard F. Corcoran schedulde sentencing for Aug. 18.
Ward One Inc. once boasted a board of directors that included educators at Howard University, an aide to D.C. City Councilman David Clarke (D-Ward 1) and other community members.
The organization used the $250,000 grant to finance such projects as a $24,000 grant to finance such projects as a $24,000 antitruancy program, a community patrol project and an exoffender's training program.
The investigation began after Ward One Inc.'s board of directors informed federal officials of financial irregularities.