I-Team

9 charged in NIU coffee fund caper

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Chuck Goudie

Chuck Goudie

For months across the Northern Illinois University campus it has been known as the coffee fund controversy. On Tuesday night it officially become a slush fund case.

DeKalb County prosecutors charged eight current Northern Illinois employees and one former NIU employee with brewing up a scheme to steal thousands of dollars from the sale of recycled university property. Authorities contend the nine people operated a secret bank account where the proceeds of scrap metal sales would be stashed and then divvied up. That bank account became known as the "coffee fund" and may have collected more than $13,000 since 2005, according to some sources.

The clandestine account, first under investigation by university officials, became the focus of DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell earlier this year. According to court records, charged on Tuesday were: Robert Albanese, Michael Hall, Lawrence Murray, Susan Zahm, Kenneth Pugh, Keenon Darlinger, Mark Beaird, Joseph Alberti and Keith Jackson. Eight of those charged are current NIU employees . They are charged variously with theft, official misconduct, obstruction of justice and other violations.

The Northern Star student newspaper reports that while warrants have been issued, as of Tuesday evening no arrests had been made. The Star quotes campus police as saying that that "everyone who has been charged has been contacted, with the exception of Alberti."

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