A former University employee will appear in court on July 27 after using a University-issued credit card to make personal purchases of about $160,000.
This is the third known case of an employee facing charges for criminal behavior tied to a University-issued credit card, and the largest amount of money embezzled. The card in question, called a purchasing card, is given to employees to facilitate spending needs.
Tommy Metty, a former maintenance supervisor who had worked at the University for 30 years, pleaded guilty to accusations of embezzlement in March. He is also being charged with using a computer to commit a crime. The hearing this month will determine how much Metty owes the University. According to the police report, Metty used his purchasing card to make personal purchases totaling $59,341 from October 2004 to November 2006. Metty is also suspected of making an additional $101,319 worth of fraudulent purchases between 2000 and 2005, according to calculations made by a University auditor that were included in the police report.
After a University auditor and a University maintenance supervisor alerted police to Metty’s credit card expenses on Oct. 24, the criminal investigation began. Metty confessed to misusing the purchasing card days later on Oct. 27. He originally offered to repay $50,000 to the University. Metty used the card to obtain motorcycle parts, a television and a digital camera. He concealed his fraudulent spending by presenting counterfeit invoices and receipts to the University, the police report said. In the past two years, two other employees have been accused or convicted of embezzling money by making personal purchases with University credit cards. One employee was found guilty in 2005 of charging $85,200 to her purchasing card, while another was reported last year to have charged $4,000 to her account.
The University’s purchasing card program, initiated in 1995, offers a lower cost per transaction than traditional purchase orders or travel advances, University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said in an email.
“The P-Card program reduces the need to process cash advances and small reimbursements to individuals for out-of-pocket expenses,” she said. Cunningham said there are a total of 5,730 cards given to University employees, most of which are capped at $10,000 a month. She said P-Card processes are reviewed regularly to strengthen controls. But the June audit showed that the maintenance department in the University’s plant operations division where Metty worked did not have sufficient policies in place for overseeing purchasing card spending.
“Formal procedures for monitoring purchasing activity within Zone Maintenance do not exist,” the audit said. “The business manager reviews a report of service unit billings for any irregularities or abnormal usage on a monthly basis; however, due to the size of the report, a detailed review is not performed.” The internal audit has forced the University to implement new procedures for monitoring purchases. “Supervisors will validate a random sample of P-card purchases by obtaining duplicate invoice copies from suppliers and comparing them to the original order of P-card statement,” the audit said. “Such a review should detect falsification.”