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New York University employee stole $3,5 million from immigrant students


Alina Prikhodko

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A former employee of New York University (NYU) pleaded guilty to embezzling several million in public funds. According to Fox Business, the woman used this money for personal expenses.

Cindy Tappe embezzled millions that New York University should have distributed to support women and minorities. Prosecutors said some of the money went to cover legitimate payments to New York University, but the scammer spent more than $660 on personal needs, including a pool in the backyard of her $000 Connecticut home.

Tappe served as director of finance and administration at NYU's Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and Transformation of Schools. According to the prosecutor's office, from 2012 to 2018, the fraudster transferred about $3,5 million to the accounts of shell companies that she controlled.

“She stole from everyone - the taxpayers, the university, the people the Met was supposed to help. said John Beckman, a university spokesman. “When we discovered Tappe’s suspicious activity, NYU directed its internal audit department to conduct further investigation.”

Fictitious accounts

The money ($23 million) came from a grant provided by the state. The funds were planned to be spent on programs for bilinguals and special education students. Bilingual programs in the United States typically target immigrants or their children. Under the terms of the grant, a certain percentage of the funds had to be paid to “certified minority- and women-owned businesses.”

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Tappe redirected the stolen money to three subcontractors using “fictitious invoices” that she created herself. These subcontractors took their cut and then sent the money to two shell companies that Tappe controlled.

After the theft, she took a job as director of operations at the Yale School of Medicine. The Ivy League school fired her after the allegations became public.

As part of her plea deal, Tappe agreed to return the stolen money. The judge set a sentencing hearing for April 16. She will be placed on five years' probation for one count of second-degree grand theft. The maximum penalty for this charge is 15 years in prison. She will be cleared of additional charges of fraud, money laundering and falsifying business records.

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