Local News

Audit: College Official Misused Money

Posted March 24, 2008 11:53 a.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2008 12:10 p.m. EDT

— An official at Piedmont Community College submitted a fake receipt for travel reimbursement and arranged special benefits for family members, according to a state audit released Monday.

The director of the college's Educational Opportunity Center has resigned, effective March 31, and State Auditor Les Merritt has called for a criminal investigation into her actions. The director wasn't identified in the audit.

“Thousands of dollars were directed away from their intended purposes and misused for the benefit of the director, her family and the family of her staff,” Merritt said in a statement. “I believe that this is a violation of the public’s trust and warrants investigation by law enforcement."

Auditors began reviewing the college's EOC last July after receiving an anonymous tip.

Investigators determined that the director submitted a fictitious receipt for reimbursement of $1,647 following a 2005 conference in Charleston, W.Va. The audit also found that she allowed ineligible family members of staff to attend retreats at a cost of $7,668.

The director also allowed her son and daughter-in-law to participate in a federally funded program designed to serve disadvantaged people and used federal grant money to provide her son with a cell phone, according to the audit. He rang up $1,700 in charges on the phone through December, the audit found.

In their response to the audit, Piedmont Community College officials said they would seek repayment of the $1,647 travel reimbursement from the EOC director and would refund the federal grant for the $7,668 in conference charges for staff members' relatives. The officials also said they would tighten their procedures for travel expenses and cell phone use.