A former University of Arkansas at Monticello administrator who had purchasing authority over 12 UAM Foundation accounts has been charged with forgery and abuse of office in connection with the alleged purchase of books and banners for his church.
Dr. Clay E. Brown, the former vice chancellor for advancement and university relations, is charged with three counts of second-degree forgery and one count of abuse of office. Forgery is a Class C felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison an a maximum $10,000 fine. Abuse of office is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in the county jail.
Tenth Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen filed the charges Wednesday morning following his review of a University of Arkansas Systems audit of UAM’s Office of Advancement and an investigation by UAM’s Office of Public Safety.
The investigation began in April 2013 when the University of Arkansas at Monticello requested an internal audit related to an invoice submitted by Brown.
Auditors reviewed 82 invoices totaling nearly $1.3 million during the period for which Brown had purchasing authority. They found that Brown had created fictitious invoices for banners and a set of books for his church. The total cost of the items in question was less than $500.
In September 2012, Brown submitted an invoice for two banners purchased from a Monticello sign company.
“He turned in a fake invoice to finance and administration that showed two banners purchased for a total of $280,” UAM Public Safety director John Kidwell wrote in his report. “He listed the correct sizes of the signs, 3×16 ($225) and 3×6 ($55) , but failed to list only one was for university use…”
Department of Finance and Administration employees obtained the actual invoice from the sign company. The invoice included the partial title of each banner. One was partially titled “Alumni and Friends” and the other was partially titled “Jesus saw Simon”. The “Jesus saw Simon” banner is located at a local church, according to the investigative report.
The $225 cost of the banner was deducted from Brown’s last paycheck from UAM.
In January 2013, Brown submitted an invoice for three banners, one of which was not intended for university use. The banner, which cost $55, was also located at Brown’s church, according to the investigative report.
The $55 cost of the banner was deducted from Brown’s last paycheck from UAM.
In April 2013, Brown made a $180 purchase from a company called Growing Leaders and later turned in an invoice showing a “P-card” transaction from that company. The invoice showed 12 books purchased with the title “Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards.”
Employees in the Department of Finance and Administration became suspicious of the invoice after noticing incorrect dates and misspelled words on the document. The company subsequently provided UAM with the actual invoice. It showed a purchase of 12 books titled “Pivotal Praying.”
Brown reimbursed UAM the $180 cost of the books. The books, according to the report, are located at Brown’s church.
After discovering the alleged falsified invoices, Jay Jones, UAM’s vice chancellor for finance and administration, and members of his department checked prior purchases made by Brown. In May 2012, Brown made a $3,400 purchase from Ashley Furniture. Employees were unable to locate one of the items, a rug valued at $150.35. Jones reportedly located an identical rug at Brown’s church, according to the investigative report.
Brown was not charged in connection with the missing rug.
Deen said he did not charge Brown with theft because it was encompassed in the the abuse of office and forgery charges.