Two ex-N.C. Central officials indicted

Grand jury says grant money embezzled

jstancill@newsobserver.comSeptember 7, 2012 

— Two former N.C. Central University administrators have been indicted on charges of embezzling grant money that was diverted into what state auditors called a secret bank account.

Nan Coleman, who was executive director of the former Historically Minority Colleges and University Consortium at NCCU, was indicted this week by a Durham County grand jury on five counts of embezzlement. The indictments said she took $137,330 between 2005 and 2010.

Coleman was fired in 2009 for poor performance, and former NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms ordered an internal audit of the program. He later turned the investigation over to the state auditor.

Also indicted was former NCCU Provost Beverly Washington Jones. She is charged with embezzling $10,128 between 2004 and 2005. She also faces two counts of unlawfully taking grant money in the form of unauthorized checks worth nearly $52,000 between 2005 and 2009.

Her attorney, Butch Williams, said Jones “looks forward to her day in court and basically having the full story told.” Coleman’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The state audit, released last year, found that more than $1 million was diverted into an undisclosed account. The audit said Coleman had spent the money on herself and improper payments to Jones and others.

The audit said some money was used on questionable purchases such as repairs to cars apparently owned by Coleman and her husband, travel expenses, women’s clothes and hair-care products.

Nelms began scrutinizing the consortium soon after he was hired in 2007. The organization was discontinued.

The consortium represented a dozen public and private institutions of higher education across the state with heavy minority enrollment. It received millions of dollars in grants from the state and federal government, as well as private organizations. Its aim was to help close the achievement gap between minority and white children.

NCCU was the consortium’s fiscal agent.

On Thursday, NCCU issued a statement applauding the state auditor and the State Bureau of Investigation.

“NCCU takes seriously the matter of compliance and fiscal management and will continue to hold all personnel and departments accountable,” the statement said. “The university is pleased that this matter has been fully investigated.”

The statement pointed out the misuse of money was disclosed by the audit ordered by Nelms.

Nelms surprised the university in July when he abruptly announced his retirement, just weeks before the start of the fall semester. He emailed the campus about his plans, saying he wanted to spend the rest of his career ensuring the success of students at historically black universities.

He received severance worth a little more than two months’ salary, or nearly $57,000.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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