Jones, Coleman indicted
Six counts of embezzlement listed
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 14:09
More than a year after the initial allegations, a grand jury has indicted Beverly W. Jones and Nannie A. Coleman on six counts of embezzlement and two counts of grand larceny. Coleman was executive director of the Historically Minority Colleges and University Consortium.
Jones directed HMCUC prior to Coleman’s appointment and had risen to the position of vice chancellor of academic affairs. The consortium was created in 1999 as a partnership between the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the state’s 12 historically minority institutions of higher education.
According to a June 2011 audit of the program, it was developed to “devise and implement strategies to close the ‘minority achievement gap’ in North Carolina.”
The consortium targeted minority students from kindergarten through 12th grade. NCCU was the headquarters of the program.
Jones was a founding member of the consortium. The indictment charges Jones with taking $10,128 while acting as executive director and with receiving checks totaling $51,831 while she was provost.
“Beverly Jones received unauthorized check payments from an unauthorized bank account which held grant monies belonging to HMCUC,” the indictment states.
“At the time of the taking, Beverly Jones intended to deprive HMCUC of its grant monies permanently,” the indictment said. “Beverly Jones knew she was not entitled to HMCUC’s grant monies, which were for the purpose of serving underprivileged children.”
Jones’s lawyer, Butch Williams, said Jones has pled not guilty. “She served the University admirably for numbers of decades,” Williams said. “During that time she implemented programs and educated many students. She looks forward to her day in court. The truth will be told.”
Coleman, whom Jones appointed executive director of the program in 2005 when Jones became provost, was indicted on five charges of embezzlement.
The indictment alleges Coleman took a total of $137,330 for her own use. The charges refer to acts committed between 2005 and early 2010.
Her indictment states: “Nannie Coleman, in her fiduciary capacity as executive director for HMCUC, was responsible for collecting and managing grant monies for HMCUC. Nannie Coleman intentionally, fraudulently and dishonestly used HMCUC’s grant monies for some purpose other than for which she received it.”
Coleman’s lawyer, Cindy Popkin Bradley, declined comment for story. In 2010 former NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms launched an internal audit which uncovered alleged criminal and civil activity, including the undisclosed commercial bank account under the program’s name.
He later referred the audit to the N.C. Office of the State Auditor. An investigative report from the state auditor issued on June 28, 2011, found that funds totaling $1,001,128 were deposited into the undisclosed bank account from a variety of sources, including local school systems, non-profit community organizations, individuals, the University, and the NCCU Foundation.
When Coleman was asked by Nelms to provide a detailed description of the program’s operations and history, she did not mention the bank account, according to the report.
The report noted that the program had been established as its own entity, and was not properly overseen by the University.
On Sept. 6, NCCU’s office of public relations issued a statement that said, “NCCU takes seriously the matter of compliance and fiscal management and will continue to hold all personnel and departments accountable.
The University is pleased that this matter has been fully investigated.” Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Bernice Johnson, who was dean of University College after Jones, said she had no knowledge of the consortium’s finances, but she did state that the goals of the consortium were commendable.
“Dr. Jones’s and Dr. Coleman’s main intentions were to increase the success rate of students in the Durham Public Schools, in particular underprepared students or the underrepresented students or in many cases African American students,” Johnson said.
“It’s unfortunate that some of the things that happened, happened.” The Sept. 6 press release states that NCCU is pleased that the matter has been fully investigated and is serious about compliance and fiscal management and will hold personnel in departments accountable.
“North Carolina Central University is committed to ensuring that the University conducts its affairs in a manner consistent with our values, as well as University of North Carolina policy and state statues.”