8 in ‘coffee
 fund’ case 
put on administrative leave

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT

DeKALB – Eight Northern Illinois University employees charged in connection with the “coffee fund” investigation have been placed on paid administrative leave, according to an NIU statement released Monday evening.

University officials announced the decision about a week after arrest warrants were issued for nine people in an NIU police investigation of the fund. The coffee fund, which NIU officials have said was used for retirement parties and other office expenses, allegedly was an off-the-books repository for proceeds from the sale of university-owned scrap metal and other materials.

Records from local scrap metal company DeKalb Iron and Metal Co. show the fund received more than $13,000 since 2005, although it apparently had existed long before that.

“During the administrative leave period the eight employees – in accordance with state civil service statutes and university policy – will receive regular salary,” the statement read.

Felony charges were filed Oct. 16 against Robert Albanese, Joseph Alberti, Mark Beaird, Keenon Darlinger, Michael Hall, Keith Jackson, Lawrence Murray, Kenneth Pugh and Susan Zahm. Albanese, the former associate vice president of finance and facilities, resigned in July.

The employees, who all work in NIU’s Division of Finance & Facilities, are charged directly with coffee fund activities, while others are charged with attempting to conceal evidence or theft of university property, records show. The charges are based on activities that began in October 2009.

NIU police began their investigation Aug. 3 and turned it over to the state’s attorney’s office Sept. 4, and the attorney general’s office Sept. 5.

The coffee fund held $2,187 when it was closed in August, NIU officials have said.

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