Money missteps at UL-Lafayette

UL-Lafayette report shows thefts, laxity

University of Louisiana at Lafayette employees stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment over a two-year period and sold them to a scrap yard, according to an audit report released Monday.

UL-Lafayette has since fired the employees responsible for the thefts.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera also found that UL-Lafayette employees were lax in their handling of money, depositing nearly $2 million worth of payments to the university as many as 40 days after required by school policy.

The university’s Vice President for Administration and Finance, Jerry Luke LeBlanc, said the school has updated its policies and will be more vigilant in keeping track of late deposits.

The stolen equipment originated at UL-Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center. The NIRC is where researchers breed and study primates in an attempt to better human quality of life.

The audit found that between September 2011 and August 2013, NIRC employees allegedly stole scrap metal, wiring and batteries worth close to $7,000 and sold them to a scrap yard.

Auditors also found that NIRC management did not notify the center’s security personnel, university police or AT&T until two weeks after a university cellphone went missing.

“As a result, over $16,000 in fraudulent charges were placed on the phone in those two weeks,” the report says.

NIRC has since worked with AT&T to have the charges removed from the account.

On the issue of late deposits, auditors looked at 45 transactions and found seven instances where money was not deposited within the required 24 hours. The money from those seven instances totaled nearly $2 million. The money was not stolen but rather not handled in accordance with university policy.

The audit report says “untimely deposit of funds increases the risk of misappropriated and inaccurate reporting and may deprive the university of potential interest earnings.”

In a written response to the audit, LeBlanc agreed that the money was not handled correctly.

He said university procedures in place to document the handling of money were not followed. The university has since updated its “Fund Handling Guidelines” and will continue to keep a close eye on all deposits.

Failure to comply with the new guidelines “will result in a suspension of the department’s funds handling and collection activities,” LeBlanc wrote.