Well, this one cuts alittle close to home; I went to Tufts. Of course, I graduated undergrad there a long time ago. Long before I was a Boston criminal defense attorney. Long before the alleged white collar criminal activities to which Josephine N. (hereinafter, “Defendant 1”) and Raymond R. (hereinafter, “Defendant 2”) have now pleaded guilty. The pair were fairly high up on the funding ladder for the University at the time of their alleged misdeeds. Now, they have fallen off that ladder and landed in state prison.
Last week, Defendant 1, the director of Tufts’ Office of Student Activities from 1996 to 2007, and Defendant 2, the budget and fiscal coordinator for the Office of Student Activities from 2001 to 2007, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of larceny in Woburn Superior Court. According to the Commonwealth, Defendant 1 had stolen $37,576 and Defendant 2 had pilfered $604,873. The two had been indicted on July 1st by a Middlesex Grand Jury for counts of larceny over $250.
Yes, those would be felony charges. Each defendant was sentenced to two years to two years and one day to be followed by five years of probation as well as full restitution of the funds they have admitted to stealing.
“These two employees abused the access that they were given by the University to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars that was meant to help students,” District Attorney Leone said. “We want to thank Tufts University for referring this case to our office as soon as they uncovered this scheme and then working cooperatively with us to conduct a full investigation.”
In fact, there were two different schemes involved. They were first discovered by a member of the Tufts Internal Audit Department who had received an anonymous tip. Based on a follow-up investigation, it was determined that Defendant1 would use the University’s bank accounts that was associ8ated with the Office of Student Activities by depositing funds into it and then transfer that money into her own personal bank accounts. She also used the account to withdraw cash and make personal purchases at places like Foxwoods, IKEA, and other stores.
Over a time period from 2001 to 2007, Defendant1 apparently transferred $63,500 to her personal line of credit, $91,000 to her personal checking account and also withdrew $174,908 in cash. In total, she stole $372,576 from the University through this scheme.
In case you are wondering, no, she was not authorized to take or spend any of this money by the University.
During the investigation, auditors also discovered that Defendant2 stole $604,873 from University student activity accounts in a separate scheme. Auditors discovered that Defendant2 wrote himself a check from a University account in the amount of $100,000. He then deposited that check into an account he opened in his name, and used the money to pay credit card bills.
Defendant2 also opened numerous credit cards in his name and in the name of Tufts University. He would then use the cards to purchase personal items and then pay the credit cards with checks drawn from the Tufts University student activity account. From October 2005 to September 2007, Defendant2 is alleged to have used Tufts money to purchase high-priced items and trips.
Defendant1 was indicted by a Middlesex Grand Jury on July 1, 2008, on three counts of larceny over $250. Defendant2 was also indicted on July 1 on two counts of larceny over $250. At their arraignments on August 8, 2008, they were both released on personal recognizance.
As indicated above, they are to be released no morel
Attorney Sam’s Take:
This case has been chosen to discuss with you today for two reasons. First of all, it is a good follow-up to yesterday’s story in delivering the message that one does not always see an investigation coming and that folks one does not usually expect to see with the last name “Defendant” often find themselves with said title. Also, it brings us back to the college issues to be examined tomorrow as this daily Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog offers up the second part of our discussion about students and ramifications of being convicted, or even accused, of a crime.
In this case, though, there are a couple of items that make the defendants stand out.
First of all, it is difficult to believe that, particularly with the types of white collar cases in the news (which often reflects, if not dictates, the mindset of prosecutors) Defendants 1 and 2 had no idea that they might get caught.
What the defendants did is actually embezzlement. Especially given the setting, it is an especially sensitive area because of the “abuse of trust” aspect. Further, there could have been little misunderstanding as to whether there would be a “paper trail” for the authorities to follow. Of course, the matter is made even worse given the apparent greed and long-standing schemes involved.
I find that in many such cases, while an initial white collar crime has occurred, there begins a suspicion by investigators that any surrounding questionable financial discrepancies are immediately suspected as part of the already suspected schemes. In such cases, questionable decisions which are not necessarily criminal, or even intentional, are assumed to be both criminal and intentional.
It is not clear whether the defendants “cooperated” with the investigation. It is quite common, however, in such cases, for investigators to contact the targets of their investigation, giving them a “chance” to “come clean” with them. The promise is that, in return, the officers will do what they can to “go easy” on them. Most often, however, this is the proverbial smoke being blown in order to entice the unsuspecting to help them make their prosecutorial case stronger.
In fact, it will be the prosecutor, not the detectives, who decide what punishments to seek. Further, confessing to crimes does not tend to dissuade the Commonwealth from prosecuting.
In certain instances, the accused have more to lose than simply a few years in prison. Often the entire future is at risk. While it is unknown if the defendants in today’s posting were actually students, their futures upon their release are now in question…to be optimistic. This is particularly true if they were seeking a career in finance, politics or any other position of trust…particularly if that trust involves money.
There is no indication that either of these defendants had any criminal record. Many people believe that if a defendant facing nonviolent charges such as these has no prior record, the most they are looking at in terms of criminal justice ramifications, is a “slap on the wrist” and a short term of probation. As one can see from this story, such is not necessarily the case.
In fact, it seldom is in today’s criminal justice system.
As one example, look at the sentence they are getting in a plea bargain; imagine what the sentence would be if found guilty after after a trial!
Today, it is even more important than ever to be careful. This primarily means to be careful not to do the wrong-doing in the first place. However, it also means that, failing that (or being suspected of failing that), consult someone who can advise you as early as possible as to any pending investigation.
Yes, that would be an experienced criminal defense attorney.
But then, you knew that already, didn’t you?
For the full articles concerning today’s posting of the Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, go to http://www.wickedlocal.com/belmont/news/police_and_fire/x998781965/Former-employees-plead-guilty-to-stealing-nearly-1M-from-Tufts