Southern Law Center procedures questioned by legislative auditor

For three years, a former Southern University Law Center employee who collected fees, dues and donations for the law school failed to deposit more than $280,000 in the bank, instead keeping about $274,000 worth of undeposited checks and money orders in her office.

A legislative audit report released publicly on Monday also found that another $8,231 that should have been deposited in the law school’s bank account, is so far, unaccounted for.

Southern Law Center Chancellor Freddie Pitcher Jr. said the law school has been able to collect about $181,000 of the undeposited money and is working through another $100,000 worth of checks and money orders, some of which are 2 years old, to determine which ones are still valid.

“We don’t expect to be out $100,000 when this is over,” Pitcher said.

Pitcher described the employee, budget officer Earline Crumpton, as a 30-year Southern employee working on the Baton Rouge academic campus before taking a job with the Law Center.

“She was known to be a very trustworthy employee,” he said.

The audit report says law school management went into Crumpton’s office in January after receiving calls from donors whose checks to the Law Center had not cleared their bank accounts.

Once inside the office, Law Center management discovered the checks and money orders, some dating back to 2009. Crumpton was on leave at the time and later resigned from her position.

The incident prompted a joint investigation between Southern’s internal audit staff and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, which found that Crumpton may have violated state law.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday that he’s met with the law school chancellor and doesn’t anticipate pursuing criminal charges.

It is believed that Crumpton is gravely ill. She could not be reached for comment Monday.

In the meantime, Pitcher said the Law Center has refined its protocols, now requiring all cash and checks received by an employee to be delivered to the law school’s finance department by the end of the business day.

Cash deposits must be accompanied by a detailed report spelling out the particulars of the transaction, while the law school also will make two copies of all checks received with the copies to be kept on file permanently.