Former Southern University Workers Charged in Kickback Scheme
BATON ROUGE, La.
Two former employees of Southern University were charged in connection with a kickback scheme involving nearly $170,000 of federal work-study funds, U.S. Attorney Brian Jackson’s office announced recently.
Darrel B. Lee, 35, and Richard Wilson III, 43, face charges of embezzlement and fraud for allegedly taking kickbacks from students who received federal work-study money but performed no work.
The former coordinator of the federal student work program at Southern, Ellois Blount, headed the scheme, according to an audit released by Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle in December (see Black Issues, Feb. 1).
The audit said Blount and the others admitted their roles in diverting cash for their personal use from 1996 through much of 1999. Blount also was paid $44,700 for accumulated leave she had not earned, the audit said.
Kyle’s investigative audit began after unidentified persons tipped him that students were being paid for work they did not perform.
The audit led to a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office. The district attorney has charged Blount with conspiracy to commit money laundering of more than $100,000.
In return for placement on the work-study rolls, the students who were involved agreed to pay cash kickbacks to employees in Southern’s work-study department, says Mark Pethke, an assistant district attorney.
Wilson was a coach and supervisor of intramural sports. Lee worked in Southern’s financial aid office.
“How they figured that they wouldn’t get caught, well, I guess that’s between them and their God,” Pethke says.
Pethke says some students also could face charges.
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