Tuskegee Employees Schemed to Defraud University

Several former employees at Tuskegee University in Alabama participated in a plan to defraud the university of about $500,000 by diverting “grants and university-owned funds,” President Charlotte P. Morris said in a letter shared campuswide.

The university’s Board of Trustees noticed “financial irregularities involving grant payments in certain university fund accounts” in January 2020, which spurred an investigation overseen by a special review committee of the board and conducted by three external firms. The fraud involved less than 2 percent of the funds in the affected grants, which could have been “an intentional tactic to avoid detection,” according to the letter sent out last week.

Morris provided assurances in the letter that scheme was no longer active, and she said no financial aid money was involved and that university employees who participated were fired. She also noted that three former employees were arrested by state law enforcement authorities and charged with theft. The university created a whistle-blower hotline, revised its accounting policies and made other changes in response to the fraud scheme.

“The actions of these former employees, who took advantage of the university and breached our community trust in the process, are disturbing and unacceptable,” Morris wrote. “Their actions contradict both our values and our commitment to creating a campus environment based on trust, integrity, and honesty.”

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