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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Ex-employee charged with grand larceny

A former Ithaca College employee was arrested Nov. 15 for allegedly stealing more than $371,000 from the college.
Wendy Travis, 47, former assistant director of conference and events services, was arrested on suspicion of grand larceny in the second degree, according to Ithaca Town Court documents. This included undocumented refunds made to her personal credit card account and misappropriating college funds for personal gain, the documents said.

In court records obtained from the City of Ithaca Clerk’s office, the vice president of finance and administration of the college said Travis was authorized to use college procurement cards intended for acquiring goods and services for the college only.

The college was notified in July that NOVA, a provider of financial services contracted by the college, had detected irregular refund transactions in account records, according to the documents.

Dave Maley, associate director of media relations, said the findings were reported to Public Safety in July, and Travis was fired July 26.

As of Oct. 26, the college’s auditing firm, Grant Thorton, LLP, had documented more than $371,000 in suspicious financial transactions, accessible by Travis, since the year 2000, the documents said. The college is continuing to investigate transactions prior to the year 2000.

Conference and Events Services arranges for internal and external clients to schedule events on campus. The office handles approximately $2 million every year. As associate director, Travis had access to several large accounts, including programs generated for Suzuki and Chamber Summer Institutes, the documents said.

In September 2006, Travis was promoted from business coordinator, a position she had held for 16 years, to assistant director for event planning and special programs.

Maley said no individual at the college has ever been suspected of misappropriating such a large sum of money.

“This is certainly the largest amount of money to my knowledge,” he said.

Maley said an event like this does not cause the college administration to lose faith in its employees.

“We’re confident that the safeguards we [currently] have in place do and will catch when someone violates trust,” he said.

In November 2005, The Ithacan reported David Speller, former associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was charged with misappropriating $33,000 from the college.

The college is requesting criminal prosecution for Travis and full restitution for the loss to the college, including the cost of investigation fees.

When contacted at her home, Travis declined to comment.