RALEIGH, N.C. — A woman charged with embezzling funds from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Medicine headed to court Monday to answer charges that she misused patient money.
A recent audit revealed that Cassandra Greene-Hines overpaid more than $40,000 for toner cartridges. It also showed that she received $3,100 in kickbacks.
Greene-Hines denies the charges.
Another employee also faces criminal charges. A total of three employees were fired, while a fourth resigned.
According to an investigation, the scam cost UNC more than $300,000.
The case involves conflict of interest and excessive spending over a four-year period by the med school's radiology department, and it prompted a shake-up of the accounting system.
"It's reprehensible," said Dr. Matthew Mauro, vice-chair of the radiology department. "Portions of these activities were illegal. It is an embarrassment."
Investigators believe maintenance coordinator Ronnie Tyson orchestrated overpayments to companies he or his relatives owned. In one case, Radiology spent $105,000 for moving expenses -- $104,000 more than it should have cost had campus resources been used.
Auditors found the department overpaid $86,000 for things like cleaning and carpeting.
"We don't like to see one dollar misused," Mauro said. "We have an obligation to our faculty and our patients as well as the citizens of our state."
Tyson's supervisor at the time, Greene-Hines, is charged with embezzlement. She told us she has nothing to say except that she's not guilty. The audit showed she overpaid $43,000 for toner cartridges and got $3,100 in kickbacks.
Mauro said it is unlikely that the school will get the money back now.
Aside from the embarrassment, Dr. Mauro said misuse will lead to positive change, making spending more accountable.
"We've implemented new checks and balances, new reporting structures of new personnel, and we will ensure that this does not happen again," Mauro said.
Ronnie Tyson faces two misdemeanor charges involving conflict of interest. UNC fired radiology administrator James Foster and allowed administrative manager Wesley Hall resign.
Investigators believe both knew about the conflict of interest, but did nothing about it.
The number of white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement and fraud, actually have gone down over the years.
In 1984, police across the country made some 90,000 arrests. Ten years later that number dropped to about 60,000.
That trend continues through 2002 according to the National Police Agency.
There is no way to tell, though, if there are actually fewer crimes, or if criminals are just getting smarter.