updated 1/3/2007 5:00:17 PM ET 2007-01-03T22:00:17

A former accountant for the National Kidney Foundation of the Virginias pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling nearly $170,000 from the charity during a six-year span.

Robert B. Graves Jr., 56, pleaded guilty to six felony counts in connection to the theft. In exchange, prosecutors withdrew six similar charges.

Graves faces up to 20 years in prison on each count when he is sentenced March 27. He also must repay $169,939, the sum authorities confirmed he wired into his personal bank account from Kidney Foundation funds. Investigators were unable to establish where an additional $4,365 in missing money went.

The Kidney Foundation fired Graves in March 2005 after it learned through a criminal-background check that he had been convicted in 1994 of embezzling about $78,000 from a hotel where he worked as the controller. He was ordered to make restitution in that case but served no prison time.

The Kidney Foundation hired Graves in 1999 without a criminal background check. The charity theft was discovered after the person hired to replace Graves found discrepancies in the charity’s accounts.

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