Friday, November 28, 2008

College Business Manager In Texas Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement

Aubrey Mervin Smart Jr., 61, the former business manager for Coastal Bend College in Corpus Christi, Texas, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of "embezzlement from an organization receiving federal funds." Smart admitted that he stole $127,541.85 between February 4 to April 22, 2008, by making electronic fund transfers to move the money from the college's general fund account to his own bank account, according to the criminal complaint. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution at sentencing, which is scheduled for February 12, 2009. College president, Thomas Baynum is quoted as saying about Smart, "He came to us with absolutely impeccable credentials. He had worked as a vice president at Northeast Texas Community College. He had a great reputation there and had solid recommendations."

Read the story here, here and here.

Sometimes recommendations and credentials aren't enough. Circumstances change in people's lives that cause them to step over the line ethically. In this case, Smart reportedly used the funds to pay for personal expenses. He may have had financial problems going into this position as the thefts occurred almost immediately after he was hired. I suspect if one dug into his background a little harder, some evidence would emerge to show he had financial or other issues. Recommendations may also not be accurate as most organizations allow staff to provide only "name, rank and serial number" for fear of being sued. However, there is a growing body of case law holding organizations liable for NOT telling pertinent information about why a candidate left a prior job.

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