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MU investigates student organization's missing $1K

By Allison McGillivray
On March 4, 2013

The Miami University Police Department (MUPD) is investigating a report of $1,000 missing from an account belonging to a student organization, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).

The organization's treasurer allegedly did not deposit this money into the appropriate account, according to Vice President of Student Organizations Michael Trivelli.

Trivelli said he was contacted last semester by the organization's president, Emily Williams.

Trivelli said Williams asked his help to locate $1,000 that was missing from the NAfME account.

After Trivelli and Williams investigated the situation, Williams and her advisor filed a report with the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) for theft of cash, check or gift cards totaling $1,000. It is noted in the report that the treasurer at the time of the incident was in control of the money.

Junior Paul Corbin was the treasurer during the time that the money was reported as stolen.

Trivelli said Corbin said he resigned as the treasurer of NAfME due to time commitment issues at the end of last semester.

Trivelli said Corbin confessed to MUPD to taking the money and also issued a formal apology to the members of NAfME both in person and in the form of an email and said he would return the money to the NAfME the next day.

Chair of the Music Department Bruce Murray was able to confirm that there was money missing from the NAfME account at one time and that the money had been returned. However, as a result of ongoing investigation he was not able to elaborate on the actions being taken in response.

"There was some money that went missing before it was deposited in the appropriate account," Murray said. "And now stuff is happening in response to that."

Corbin could not be reached for a statement by press time.

It is noted in the report that the report is closed and the case has been referred to the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR).

Chris Taylor, associated director of OESCR, said this incident would fall under part 104 of the Miami University Student Handbook, which refers to damage, theft or unauthorized use of property.

Taylor could not discuss the specifics of the case because of FERPA.

Possible penalties of part 104 range from attending an ethics seminar, restitution, probation and suspension depending.

Trivelli and Associated Student Government (ASG) Treasurer Kyle Hees will also request Student Senate to approve a cause audit of NAfME on Tuesday.

If Senate approves the audit request, the Audit Committee will investigate NAfME and determine whether any penalty should be applied to the student organization.

"ASG as a whole and especially the audit committee just is very disappointed because we believe a lot of trust is placed in student leaders on campus," Trivelli said. "And we just hate to see that trust we violated."

Possible penalties NAfME might receive would be that the organization's funding would be reduced by a certain percentage for a given number of funding cycles or that the organization would be subject to an audit every semester for the next few years, according to Trivelli.

"We do feel that we need to hold the organization as a whole accountable even though it was the act of one individual because it is important to have accountability on all levels," Trivelli said.

As a result of this situation, ASG will have to tighten regulations on student organization accounting and funding to help prevent this type of situation from happening again, according to Trivelli. ASG is also trying to improve its audit process so fraud is easier to detect.

Trivelli said he is impressed with how Williams handled the situation.

"I think the president of this organization did a great job with following up with me and the police and her advisor," Trivelli said.

Trivelli said it is important for student leaders to know what will happen if they are caught committing fraud.

"We [the ASG audit committee] want to convey the message that if a student leader is caught stealing money from the university they will be punished to the fullest extent possible because we don't want this to happen ever again," Trivelli said.

Murray said he is impressed with NAfME performance as a student organization over the years.

"This is a professional organization," Murray said. "Our chapter has been extremely strong over the years. It has a fantastic track record."

Murray also said NAfME will move forward from this situation.

"They'll be fine," Murray said. "They are great students; great kids. Whatever happened is unfortunate but they will move on unphased."

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