A former teacher of the Universi North Iowa diverted almost $ 15,000 of programs it oversaw to a personal bank account, according to an audit published Thursday.
Samuel Lankford, who now works for Fresno State University in California, questions the findings of the Iowa State Auditor's investigation.
In an email to the Des Moines Registry, Lankford wrote that he had contracts with several groups before working for UNI. When asked if he diverted money inappropriately, Lankford responded: "No, these were personal contracts … I was an advisor to the reports in question" since 1992, "nine years before my affiliation with UNI."
Lankford wrote that he is "working to clarify and understand the claim."
The special investigation of the state auditor was requested by UNI.
Lankford was hired in August 2001 as professor and director of the UNI Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program and its Recreation Research and Services program that promotes planning and tourism policy in Iowa.
Through the programs, which receive federal money, the university enters into contracts with Iowa organizations to carry out studies related to tourism and recreation projects, according to the state investigation. . Students help with writing the proposal, researching, collecting and entering data and preparing final reports.
According to the audit, the International Arctic Winter Games Committee wrote three checks that were deposited in Lankford's personal bank account. The money was for a report issued by the university related to the personal and social benefits of participating in the 2014 Winter Arctic Games.
The money was supposed to be deposited in university accounts, the report said.
Mary Mosiman, Iowa State Auditor, wrote in a statement that it was not possible to determine if another money was not deposited correctly due to inadequate documentation.
Specifically, the investigation found that in 32 of the 44 projects completed from 2002 to 2015, it could not be determined how much, if any, in the payments were deposited in the accounts of the University. The researchers found that $ 61,370 was deposited in a university account for 12 projects; however, investigators could not determine how much money should have been deposited, the report said.
Lankford, 62, resigned from UNI in 2015. He was paid $ 114,834, according to the state salary records.
Information gathered by state investigators has been provided to law enforcement agencies, including the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Office of the Attorney General. No criminal charges have been filed.
A UNI official said that the State of Fresno received a copy of the auditor's report. In addition, the university has asked Lankford to return almost $ 15,000, the official said.
The auditor's report recommended that UNI officials implement policies and procedures to improve record keeping for programs and similar programs. The university should develop a list of all contracts, the amount of revenue expected to be generated from them and how much was received, according to the report. In addition, reconciliations must be completed by someone who is not affiliated with the programs, according to the report.
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