Thursday, June 28, 2007

Retired UNT professor pleads guilty to embezzling

By Donna Fielder and Matthew Zabel - Denton Record-Chronicle Staff Writers - Tuesday, June 26, 2007
SHERMAN — A retired University of North Texas professor pleaded guilty Monday to federal public corruption charges, after prosecutors said he funneled more than $463,000 in cash and services from the university to his private business.

Dr. James Jarrett Glass, director of the UNT Sur­vey Research Center from 1993 to 2006, could face up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 as well as restitution to the university.

“He used our facilities; he used our supplies, our equipment, our professional staff and our student employees to conduct research for his business,”
said Deborah Leliaert, a university spokeswoman.

Glass, 63, declined to comment.
See Denton Record-Chronicle report
Glass was released on his own recognizance until a sentencing hearing takes place. No date has been set for that.

Denton lawyer Jerry Cobb is Glass’s attorney.

According to court documents, from 1993 to Feb. 2, 2006, Glass used the university’s computer and telephone systems to profit his own company. He arranged his own business interests on the systems, according to the documents.

Glass retired from UNT in December during the investigation.

UNT paid him $99,374 from September 2005 to August 2006, Leliaert said. He was put on paid leave on Oct. 26, 2006, as result of the investigation.

UNT Detective Sgt. West Gilbreath said the investigation was long and complicated. When investigators realized Glass was doing business both in Texas and in California, they asked for help from the FBI, because it became a multi-jurisdictional case.

“We’re hoping to get restitution,” Gilbreath said. “This is nearly half a million dollars we’re talking about.”

This is the fourth court case of embezzlement by staff or professors at UNT in the past two years. UNT police have worked hard to bring all four to justice, Gilbreath said, and they will continue to investigate any evidence of fraud on campus.

“This is another case that shows that embezzlement is just not going to be tolerated,” he said.

Patti Dale was sentenced to four years in March 2005 in state court for theft by a public servant. She recruited 14 people she placed on the payroll of the School of Library and Information Sciences who never worked there. Those involved gave most of the money they received to her, and she took more than $155,000 in the scheme.

Paul Schlieve was sentenced to 160 months in federal prison in July 2005. He put his boyfriend on a student work grant payroll and collected paychecks for him, even while the boyfriend was in jail. The man neither worked at nor attended UNT.

Andrea Szaboky was placed on 10 years probation in state court for felony theft in July 2006. She reimbursed herself nearly $30,000 for trips she didn’t take, bought expensive gifts on the university purchase card and paid herself for work she didn’t do.

Glass’ case mostly centered on his use of UNT employees to do work for his private companies, and his use of his position at UNT to obtain contracts for those companies.
The Survey Research Center, an arm of the UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service, conducts surveys via telephone, mail, Internet and focus groups for state and local governments, nonprofit agencies and private businesses.

The center’s staff consists of both professional researchers and student employees.

Leliaert said that during the 2005-06 fiscal year, that center fulfilled 28 research contracts worth $821,000.

A faculty member first reported Glass to the university auditor in 2004, Leliaert said.

UNT’s internal auditor began an investigation, but put it on hold when Glass suffered a personal tragedy, Leliaert said.

That auditor, Tim Edwards, retired in 2005, and he could not be reached for comment.

Edwards’ replacement, Don Holdegraver, found the incomplete audit in April 2006 and resumed the investigation.

He found evidence that a crime had been committed, Leliaert said, and referred the case to the UNT Police Department, which also notified the FBI.

In his report, dated June 14, Holdegraver wrote that Glass founded Public Management Associates, a private company with no employees, an address of a local mailbox rental business and the same office telephone as the Survey Research Center.

Glass also acted as a principal in another company, Benavides and Associates, which was established in 2003.

Both businesses did work that was similar to the university center, and his clients were the same.

Holdegraver’s report lists several contracts between one of Glass’s companies and an outside client. In those contracts, Glass used the UNT research center to do the work.

For example, Public Manage­ment Associates charged the city of Lewisville $17,000 for a needs assessment in 2002.

In that agreement, Glass said he would contract with the UNT Survey Research Center and use its computer-assisted telephone system to do the work, auditors reported, but Glass never paid UNT for the work.

The FBI found 25 other contracts like that one, dating back to 1993, in which Glass used the UNT Survey Research Center to win a contract and then either paid back none or only part of the cost to UNT, according to court documents.

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