Multiyear fraud scheme by former employees uncovered at Tuskegee University

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 6:27 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 1, 2021 at 6:54 AM CDT
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TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WSFA) - Several employees with Tuskegee University are no longer with the school after a multiyear fraud scheme was uncovered during an internal investigation.

According to a letter from Tuskegee University President Charlotte P. Morris, the internal investigation began after the university’s trustees learned of financial irregularities in grant payments and certain fund accounts.

An investigation by a special review committee and law enforcement began in January 2020. Morris said the investigation found that several employees had conducted a multiyear scheme to defraud Tuskegee of about $500,000 by diverting grants and university-owned funds.

As a result, the employees are no longer employed due to their involvement or failure to prevent the scheme. Of those employees, three have been arrested and charged with theft by state law enforcement. The university did not identify the former employees.

Morris said the scheme had minimal impact on the distribution of the university’s money in grant funding and did not involve student financial aid. It is believed the scheme involved small increments, Morris added, to be an “intentional tactic” to avoid detection.

“While no amount of theft is ever acceptable, we learned the fraud scheme in total involved less than 2% of the funds in the affected grants,” Morris said.

Following the investigation, Morris said the university continues to cooperate with law enforcement and the ongoing criminal investigation.

“I want to assure you that nothing is more important to me than creating a safe, welcoming, and secure campus environment where all members of our community feel valued and able to contribute to the greater good,” Morris said. “In order to achieve this, every single one of us must feel empowered to speak up if we experience or see something counter to our values.”

The university has also taken several “corrective actions and remedial measures” to prevent future fraudulent activity, Morris added.

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