Ex-Tufts officials charged with embezzling to see Celine Dion

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Two former Tufts University administrators, including a Wayland woman, face charges they stole nearly $1 million from the university in separate schemes, spending money on trips to Foxwoods, Paris and Montreal, buying concert tickets to see Madonna and Celine Dion and charging high-end designer goods by Gucci, Tiffany and Co., and Louis Vuitton.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a press release that Josephine Nealley of Wayland, director of Tufts' Office of Students Activities between 1996 and 2007, and Raymond Rodriguez of Belmont, the budget and fiscal coordinator for the Office of Student Activities between 2001 and 2007, were indicted Tuesday by a Middlesex Grand Jury.

Leone said Nealley was indicted on three counts of larceny over $250 after allegedly stealing $372,576. Rodriguez, who was indicted on two counts of larceny over $250, is accused of stealing $604,873.

“These two employees abused the access that they were entrusted with to steal literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own personal use,'' Leone said in a statement.

In the same statement, Patricia Campbell, executive vice president of the university, said, “We are deeply disappointed that two individuals who were trusted by students and colleagues abused that trust.

“Student activity funds were handled differently than other university business. That is no longer the case. We have significantly improved student activities systems to prevent future incidents. We have also taken steps to assure that no student activities programs are adversely affected.''

The DA said the schemes were discovered by a member of the Tufts Internal Audit Department who had received an anonymous tip.

Leone said Nealley had control over bank accounts associated with the Office of Student Activities and used one of these accounts to deposit student activity funds/ She then would transfer that money into her personal bank accounts. She also used the account to withdraw cash and make personal purchases. Bank records indicate that Nealley used a debit/ATM card to make purchases at Foxwoods Resort and Casino, IKEA, Whole Foods, The Disney Store, Talbots and from the mail-order company Omaha Steaks.

According to the district attorney's office, from 2001 to 2007 Nealley “transferred $63,500 to her personal line of credit, $91,000 to her personal checking account and also withdrew $174,908 in cash.''

In total, she is alleged to have stolen $372,576 from the university through this scheme, even though she was “not authorized to take or spend any of this money by the university,'' Leone's office said.

During the investigation, auditors also discovered that Rodriguez stole $604,873 from university student activity accounts. Auditors discovered that Rodriguez wrote himself a check from a Tufts account in the amount of $100,000, then deposited that check into an account he opened in his name, and used the money to pay credit card bills, the DA's office said.

Rodriguez also opened numerous credit cards in his name and in the name of Tufts University. He then used the cards to purchase personal items and then pay the credit cards with checks drawn from the Tufts University student activity account. From October 2005 to September 2007, Rodriguez is alleged to have used Tufts money to purchase trips to Paris, Montreal, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, and other destinations; tickets to concerts such as Madonna, Celine Dion, Rent, and opera performances; and to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury goods from Gucci, Tiffany and Co., Bloomingdale's, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Coach and Prada, Leone's office reported.

An arraignment date for Nealley and Rodriguez has not yet been set.

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