Two former Tufts employees charged with stealing nearly $1M from university

Erin Smith

Two former Tufts University employees bilked the school out of nearly $1 million and used the stolen student activities funds to buy food, furniture, and designer handbags and took trips to Paris, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Raymond Rodriguez and Josephine Nealley, who allegedly embezzled the money in two separate schemes, were indicted by a grand jury in Middlesex County Superior court Tuesday, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Nealley, who served as the director of the university's Office of Student Activities between 1996 and 2007, is alleged to have stolen $372,576 and was indicted on three counts of larceny over $250, according to prosecutors.

Rodriguez, who worked as the budget and fiscal coordinator for the Office of Student Activities between 2001 and 2007, is alleged to have stolen $604,873 and was indicted on two counts of larceny over $250.

“We appreciate the District Attorney’s commitment and cooperation. We are deeply disappointed that two individuals who were trusted by students and colleagues abused that trust,” said Tufts Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell in a statement.

Campbell said Tufts University has taken steps to prevent employees from stealing money supposed to be used to fund student activities in the future.

The embezzlements were first discovered after the Tufts Internal Audit Department received an anonymous tip, prosecutors said.

Nealley had control over bank accounts for the Office of Student Activities and used one of the accounts to deposit student activity funds, which she then allegedly transferred into her own personal bank accounts, according to the DA’s office. She also allegedly used the account to make cash withdrawals and make personal purchases at Foxwoods Resort and Casino, IKEA, Whole Foods, The Disney Store, Talbots and Omaha Steaks, prosecutors said.

From 2001 to 2007, Nealley allegedly transferred $63,500 to her personal line of credit, $91,000 to her personal checking account and withdrew $174,908 in cash without university officials’ knowledge.

While investigating Nealley, auditors also discovered Rodriguez allegedly stole from university student activity accounts. Rodriguez allegedly wrote himself a $100,000 check from a university account and then deposited that check into an account he opened in his name, according to the DA’s office. Prosecutors said Rodriguez used the money to pay credit card bills.

Rodriguez also allegedly opened numerous credit cards in his name and in the name of Tufts University. From October 2005 to September 2007, he allegedly used the cards to purchase personal items and then paid the credit cards with checks drawn from the Tufts University student activity account.

Prosecutors allege Rodriguez used the stolen money to take trips to Paris, Montreal, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago and other destinations. Rodriguez also allegedly used university money to buy concert tickets to see Madonna, Celine Dion, Rent and opera performances and allegedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxury items such as wallets, watches, handbags, shoes, electronics, and home goods from high end retailers such as Gucci, Tiffany and Co., Bloomingdale's, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Coach, and Prada.

An arraignment date for Rodriguez and Nealley has yet to be set.