Former secretary accused of stealing from university

By Gus Bode

A former secretary in the political science department is set to go to trial in July on charges she stole thousands of dollars from the university.

Rhonda Musgrave, 41 of Anna, pled not guilty on two felony charges, one for theft and the other for unlawful use of a credit card, in Jackson County court Friday. Musgrave is accused of spending between $10,000 and $100,000 of university money at several businesses for her personal use, according to court documents.

The documents say the alleged theft was done last year using a university-issued procurement card.

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University spokesman Rod Sievers said many employees use the credit cards to purchase supplies related to university business. There is a system of checks in place to prevent misuse of the cards, he said.

“A lot of people have procurement cards,” Sievers said.

Sievers and other university officials have said they could not speak about the issue because it is a pending legal matter.

Public Safety Director Todd Sigler said university police were involved in an investigation in December that led to the charges against Musgrave. The investigation began Dec. 10 and was finished the next day, he said.

Sigler said he could not say exactly how much money was missing because the case had been forwarded to the Jackson County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Alan Vaux, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the alleged theft has little to do with a projected budget shortfall in the college of about $350,000 this year. Vaux sent an e-mail to faculty members Friday describing the events that led to the deficit, most of which were related to reductions in the college’s funding over the past several years.

The e-mail also said the college has recently had difficulty retaining faculty so it has begun hiring new people before they are needed.

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“We routinely have hired new faculty only by betting that other faculty would ‘unexpectedly’ announce in spring an intention to retire or resign – thus freeing up funds for the next fiscal year,” Vaux said in the e-mail.

But that money is not available this year because of a 3 percent cut in the college’s recurring funds, he said, and the college’s budget will reflect that.

Joe Crawford can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected]

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