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Local

NIU 'coffee fund' defendant accepts misdemeanor plea agreement

SYCAMORE – One of Northern Illinois University's "coffee fund" scrap metal defendants must pay the university $4,000 by Aug. 19 under a misdemeanor plea agreement finalized Monday.

Lawrence Murray, 52, of Rochelle, pleaded guilty to violation of the State Property Control Act, a Class B misdemeanor. He was fined $825 and sentenced to 16 months of court supervision, which means a conviction won't go on his record if he successfully completes the term.

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

Nine people originally were charged in connection with the investigation under then-State's Attorney Clay Campbell, who lost re-election in November. State's Attorney Richard Schmack dropped charges against six of the defendants. Charges remain pending against Kenneth Pugh, 57, of Sycamore. He is due in court June 6.

Murray's plea agreement was similar to one for Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of the Division of Finance and Facilities at NIU. Albanese, 62, of Elburn, pleaded guilty March 19 to violating the State Property Control Act. He was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision and fined $825.

Prosecutors dismissed more serious charges of theft and official misconduct against Murray as part of the agreement. Murray was accused of exerting unauthorized control of NIU property and failing to submit monies received from recyclable property belonging to NIU, court documents show. The charges dealt with the time period between Oct. 12, 2009, and Oct. 12, 2012.

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