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Another ‘coffee fund’ case dismissed

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 11:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 11:45 p.m. CDT
Mark Beaird

SYCAMORE – Only two of the nine criminal cases remain pending in connection with the “coffee fund” scrap metal recycling investigation.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack dropped charges Tuesday against Mark Beaird, 52, of Kings.

Beaird, an inventory specialist for materials management at Northern Illinois University, was charged with theft, official misconduct and violating the State Property Control Act for allegedly mishandling between $500 and $10,000 worth of recyclable material between Oct. 12, 2009, and Oct. 12, 2012.

Beaird was on paid leave from NIU from October to January, when NIU leaders asked him to return after a separate university review.

“My client is very relieved that he can go back to work without that hanging over his head,” defense attorney J. Brick Van Der Snick said.

Beaird, like the other defendants whose cases were dropped, performed duties that would not have been different had the recycling funds been directed to the proper account, Schmack said.

“They had no role in making a decision about which account the funds were going into, and we didn’t think the ends of justice were being served by continuing to prosecute,” Schmack said.

The coffee fund was an off-the-books account for proceeds from the sale of NIU-owned scrap metal and other materials. The account accumulated at least $13,000 since 2005 and held $2,187 when it was closed in August. The money was used for office retirement parties and similar expenses, NIU officials said.

Six cases cases have been dropped since Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of the Division of Finance and Facilities at NIU, pleaded guilty last month to violating the State Property Control Act, a misdemeanor. Albanese, 62, of Elburn, was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision and fined $825.

Charges are pending against Lawrence Murray, 52, of Rochelle, and Kenneth Pugh, 57, of Sycamore. They are on suspension from NIU. They are due in court in May.

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