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NKU Investigation Of Scott Eaton
NEWPORT, Ky. (Angenette Levy) -- The president of Northern Kentucky University outlined how the school's former athletic director stole more than $300,000 and how university employees failed to detect the fraud in a letter to the chair of the Board of Regents Thursday.
Scott Eaton was fired from NKU in March for having inappropriate relationships with four NKU employees and a student. He was then investigated for using school funds for his own use. In his letter, President Geoffrey Mearns wrote that from January 2007 to March 2013, Eaton used his university credit card to buy $262,106 in gift cards from Kroger stores. The university's law firm conducted an audit and determined Eaton also used his school credit card to buy items for his personal use. He also purchased items and submitted a photocopy of the receipt to the school for accounting purposes only to keep the original receipt and to return the items for "store credit. He later used the credit to buy things for himself. Eaton also falsified receipts that he submitted to the university and used the school's postage for his activities with the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association, according to Mearns's letter.
"What's most offensive is that so many people were betrayed by him," Mearns said in a press conference Thursday.
Mearns also stated in his letter that Eaton covered up his activities by manipulating school employees to gain their trust and then abused that trust. Mearns also said there were several times university employees could have investigated "reasonable suspicions" and failed to so.
"We need to continue to strengthen a culture of integrity on campus...we need to strengthen the understanding of all employees and staff that they have a responsibility to report conduct of others and that we have a responsibility to investigate that conduct," Mearns said.
Eaton's attorney issued a statement on his behalf Thursday afternoon.
"There are certain things in the report we would quibble with," Ben Dusing said during a press conference. Dusing questioned the amount of money NKU claims Eaton took. He also said Eaton has cooperated with law enforcement and the school so it could implement safeguards to keep this type of theft from happening again.
"He came forward to law enforcement of his own accord. Make no mistake: this matter was not discovered. It was brought to the attention of the university by Dr. Eaton," Dusing said.
Geoffrey Mearns said Thursday the FBI, U.S. Attorney and Kentucky Attorney General are investigating Scott Eaton. None of the agencies would say when or if criminal charges will be filed.
"We've shared the information with the authorities. We'll continue to share the information with the authorities. They'll make the decision about whether or not charges are warranted," Mearns said.
NKUs law firm, Dinsmore & Shohl, has recommended changes be made at the university to prevent this type of theft from happening in the future. One recommendation includes reducing the number of employees who have university-issued credit cards. Another includes training school employees on what are appropriate uses of a university-issued credit card.
To view the entire letter, click here.