Yet it was in the near anonymity of the quiet operation in Perrysburg's Levis Park that depository manager Michael McHugh, a Bowling Green State University employee since 1995, allegedly used the university's money to buy more than $400,000 worth of computers, printers, digital cameras, Palm Pilots, and other high-tech gadgets.
purchases raised no eyebrows at BGSU
, investigators say he
then sold the electronics on the Internet auction site eBay or kept them for his
For nearly six years, the spending spree continued un-detected.
Then on Oct. 18, employees in BGSU's
purchasing department noticed "a spike in payables" to Office Depot
and called a hot line set up by the university to alert auditors to suspicious expenditures.
Within 24 hours, Mr. McHugh
was told he
was being suspended while the university investigated.He
immediately admitted to university officials that he
had been stealing from his
employer for years, according to court records.
The university fired Mr. McHugh
in November and he
was arrested Dec. 1.A Wood County grand jury indicted him Dec. 20 on felony charges of theft in office and telecommunications fraud.The man who received stellar reviews year after year for his
management expertise at the depository pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been in the Wood County jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bond since his
arrest.Through his attorney, Gregory Bakies, Mr. McHugh, 44, declined to be interviewed for this story.
Under questioning by BGSU police and university administrators, though, Mr. McHugh
had in fact been making purchases of electronic equipment through various vendors using university funds and then selling these items on eBay
own profit," states an affidavit filed by BGSU police in Municipal Court.
At a subsequent interview with his
attorney present, police said Mr. McHugh
"also admitted to misusing university funds for his
own benefit and that he
started this practice in 2000 or 2001."
Presented with four June, 2003, invoices from Apple Computer
that totaled $106,639, Mr. McHugh
reportedly said that yes, that was all computer equipment he
bought with university purchase orders and resold for his
Why didn't anyone in BGSU's
purchasing department notice the pricey orders for computers?
Why didn't library officials, to whom Mr. McHugh
reported, ask why the depository - which has just two other full-time employees and a half-dozen part-timers - needed so many new computers?
A review of the purchase orders and invoices from the depository showed only that the bills were paid.In one March 25, 2003, e-mail, an account clerk in BGSU's
information technology services department asked Mr. McHugh
had received his
entire Apple order, which was delivered directly to the depository.
"I now have received the entire order," he
replied."Thanks for your help."
performance evaluations seem to place the blame for the depository's budget problems on state cuts rather than local spending.
"During these challenging budgetary times, Michael
has both managed his
budget and met the mission of the depository," his
supervisors wrote in July, 2003.
By May, 2006, Ms. Haricombe noted that Mr. McHugh
had implemented "cost saving measures to reduce the depository's annual budget shortfall."
Mr. Dalton said the budget office did question Mr. McHugh
about his budget shortfalls but always received "plausible explanations."
said, found ways to get around the systems in place to prevent opportunities for theft, but he
declined to elaborate.
"He beat the system," Mr. Ribeau said of Mr. McHugh