A former Lander University employee pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of embezzlement of public funds after using a university credit card to make more than $400,000 in unauthorized purchases starting in 2007.
Francis Wayne McMahan pleaded guilty at the Greenwood County Courthouse Thursday afternoon after waiving indictment by a grand jury. Circuit Judge William Keesley sentenced McMahan to 10 years in prison, suspended to five years of probation and 400 hours of community service. McMahan will sign over his retirement account to Lander University as part of a restitution agreement. Lander will also receive some compensation for the theft from their insurer.
Lander University officials launched an investigation in Nov. 2013 after discovering some suspicious purchases of computer equipment in the Information Technology Services Department. State Law Enforcement Division investigators along with the S.C. State Inspector General’s Office and the Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office assisted in the investigation.
According to a statement from Lander University, McMahan used a complex scheme involving online purchasing and the use of a fictitious company. In spite of the large amount of money McMahan embezzled, university officials said there is a “system of checks-and-balances in place to prevent misappropriation,” but the incident has “triggered a thorough reexamination” of the policies and procedures for procurement.
“We have a strong system of internal controls that regulate purchasing, but our administration has taken a closer look at what steps can be taken to help ensure something like this doesn’t happen in the future,” Megan Price, director of public relations, said in the statement. “With the proliferation of online purchasing and rapid changes in technology, this will continue to be a developing and complicated area for all institutions and businesses.”