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Top UF Official Accused of Stealing Over $180K From University

A top University of Florida housing official has been charged with stealing more than $180,000 to buy $16,000 worth of lunches, nearly $45,000 in furniture and $37,000 more in electronics, a report shows.

The 41-year-old senior director of UF housing and education, was arrested Monday night and charged with grand larceny of more than $100,000.

According to a UF police report, the man used state funds to buy $25,000 in household items, more than $11,500 in maintenance items like lawn mowers and more than $44,000 for miscellaneous items including internet service, electricity and seven cellphones.

The report says the UF Office of Internal Audit also has records detailing fraudulent purchases of a recliner chair, blue-cushioned patio furniture, a motion-sensor trash can, tablecloth, cloth napkins, flatware, plates, lamp, storage box, motion light sensor, pitcher, several floor rugs, wall mirror, a seafoam green cabinet and several flat-screen televisions.

In November 2016, the man used his assigned UF credit card to buy a dining set and hutch at Furniture Kingdom in Gainesville for $1,340 and $1,399.95 respectively, the report says.

According to the report, a witness saw the dining set and hutch inside the man’s house. Several photographs posted on the man’s wife’s Facebook page also clearly show the dining set and hutch that were purchased with UF funds, police say.

Beginning in April, the UF Ethics and Compliance Hotline received several anonymous reports of several employees in the UF Housing and Resident Education Department who were using their positions within the department to make fraudulent reimbursement and expense claims and using department funds for private gain, the report says.

The man apparently told police Monday he was only storing the items and planned on bringing them back. He also said he would make restitution for the items.

The man was trespassed from all UF properties, the report says.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said five additional employees who worked under the man have have been placed on administrative leave and may have been involved.

The man started at UF Housing in May 2004 and worked his way up to senior director about a year ago. Records show the man earned $145,675 in 2016.

As of Monday night, the man was in the Alachua County jail, awaiting a first appearance before a judge.

While many people think theft charges are minor offenses, theft convictions can damage your reputation and limit your future employment opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with theft or larceny, you should speak with an Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can assess your case and determine your options.

Theft charges in Florida are no joke – they can result in hefty fines and jail time. A conviction can limit your ability to gain employment. Penalties stemming from a theft/larceny conviction may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Trouble securing a professional license

If you or a loved one have been charged with theft or larceny in Gainesville or the surrounding area, call our Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton at 352-264-7800 for a free consultation or contact us online.

 

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