CSU audit report: Arts professor misused scholarship money and reimbursement claims

A Cal State Long Beach arts professor submitted a $10,000 false reimbursement claim and directed students to pay him portions of scholarship money he helped them receive, according to a report released by the Cal State University Auditor’s Office.

The auditor’s report also criticized the university for a lack of oversight of scholarship awards.

In December 2009, the professor, whose name is not being released, filed a $10,000 reimbursement claim for a payment a student made to a vendor for a school project but the student did not make any payment.

When contacted by the audit committee, the student said it was his first time hearing about the $10,000 check. The committee concluded that, because the reimbursement was filed to pay the student, it was a false claim.

Two students were also directed to pay the professor a portion of scholarship money.

One student said the professor, who is also an attorney, helped him obtain a $7,000 scholarship as compensation for work on a play he wrote during the fall 2008-09 school year. The professor directed the student to keep $1,000 of the scholarship and give him $6,000 to pay for a casting director and the talent in the play.

“This is how we do this,” the professor told the student, according to the report.

The second student received $3,424, but only kept $1,000, giving the remaining balance to the professor.

The report, released on May 9, cited a lack of a student’s signature, which is needed to request a reimbursement for student expenditure.

The campus has created a new process that requires signatures of the requestor and the approver. The recommendations have also prompted the Financial Aid Office to coordinate a campus-wide scholarship review process.

The professor is still employed by the university, according to Erik Fallis, CSU media relations specialist.

“There will be some sort of employee action, but it hasn’t been determined yet,” Fallis said.

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