A grand jury has indicted five former University of North Texas College of Information employees, including the college’s budget officer, on charges that they conspired to bilk more than $75,000 from the university.
The grand jury indicted Tisha Slagle, 58, John Pipes, 57, Lindsey Collings, 31, and Theresa Jackson, 51, on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity. Diane Green, 56, has been indicted on a theft charge, UNT spokeswoman Kelley Reese said.
Slagle, Pipes, Collings, Jackson and Green could not be reached for comment.
The charges come nearly a year after UNT police first received an incident report.
Engaging in organized criminal activity is a first-degree felony with a possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison.
Reese said $75,407.85 was taken from the UNT payroll for work that was not performed between the fall of 2009 and summer of 2011.
Slagle was the budget officer in the college, and Pipes was an admissions specialist.
Collings, who worked at UNT from January 2009 to January 2012, allegedly received $62,613.22 in pay for work she never performed between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2011, Reese said. During her time at UNT, Collings worked as a research assistant, teaching assistant and in a non-student hourly position, she said.
Slagle, Collings’ mother, and Pipes, her ex-stepfather, were her supervisors, Reese said.
Green is accused of receiving $12,794.63 for work she did not perform during the spring and summer of 2011, Reese said.
Slagle also supervised Green while she was a teaching assistant, Reese said. She was on staff at UNT from 2007 to 2012.
Jackson was the budget office assistant for the college and had a role in approving Collings’ time cards, Reese said.
Jackson resigned in December 2010, Slagle was terminated from UNT on Aug. 15 and Pipes was terminated Friday, Reese said.
Slagle, Pipes and Green posted bail and were released from the Denton County Jail. Bail was set at $20,000 for Slagle and Pipes, and Green’s bail was set at $15,000.
The alleged scheme is not the first like it at UNT or even the first in the College of Information.
According to Denton Record-Chronicle files, 14 people were indicted in January 2004 on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity stemming from a fraud ring in what was then called the School of Library and Information Sciences.
Patti Dale had been with UNT for 20 years and was liked and trusted, university officials said at the time of her arrest. She was an administrative assistant to the Library and Information Sciences dean and handled payroll. The trust she established gave her the opportunity to work the scheme, unnoticed, for more than two years, officials said. Efforts later were made to shore up financial accountability at the university.
The scheme ended when someone in the department told the dean they thought something was wrong and UNT police began an investigation.
Dale admitted during the investigation that she recruited three student employees and nine of her son’s friends to accept paychecks they didn’t earn and give her kickbacks. She admitted filling out false travel reimbursements and time sheets for herself to the tune of $65,587.
An investigating officer found $255,185 he believed she was responsible for defrauding the school of and another $65,524 illegally taken through the false travel reimbursements.
Dale admitted recruiting her son to bring his friends in on the plan and act as a runner to collect the kickbacks.
She eventually pled guilty to a reduced charge of theft by a public servant and was sentenced to four years in prison. Most of the other defendants entered guilty pleas in exchange for probated sentences.
Another department had its share of scandal when tenured professor Paul Schlieve was found to have worked a similar scheme in the Department of Technology and Cognition.
In July 2005, Schlieve was convicted and sentenced to 160 months in federal prison on drug charges. He had been forced out at UNT in 2002 over allegations that he put his friend on a student work grant payroll and collected paychecks for him, even while the friend was in jail. The man never worked at or attended UNT.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is email@example.com .