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USF fires three in case of financial negligence

Scattered around an office was $275,000 in mislaid checks and cash.

Associated Press
Published January 15, 2006

TAMPA - Three University of South Florida officials were fired after the school discovered $275,000 in misplaced checks and cash scattered throughout an office.

Nearly half of the money at the school's English Language Institute - $133,647 - was in checks up to 10 years old and could not be deposited, USF spokeswoman Michelle Carlyon said.

The institute's director, Richard Schreck, found the cash and checks Dec. 21 inside desks and underneath books and office machines, among other places, Carlyon said, according to the Tampa Tribune on Saturday.

Much of the money was in payments to the program, which provides intensive English study for international students and prepares them for college.

Some money was for student health-insurance premiums, which never reached their insurance carrier.

The university fired Schreck and assistant director Barbara Smith-Palinkas on Tuesday, citing management failures. Schreck, who had worked for the university since 2004, earned $75,520 per year. Smith-Palinkas had worked there since 1996 and earned $47,060 annually.

Officials fired Patricia Baker, a senior fiscal assistant at the institute, on Wednesday, alleging she neglected to deposit payments on time. The mislaid cash and checks were found in Baker's office.

The discovery comes about a month after a state audit of USF found lax financial controls.

"The full extent of the financial damage to ELI may never fully be known due to the absence of financial controls in place," officials wrote in letters to Schreck and Smith-Palinkas.

The three can appeal their firings, but none has filed a grievance yet, Carlyon said.

On Friday, the financial council reviewing the state audit recommended reducing the number of departments that collect money and training workers to keep better financial records.

[Last modified January 15, 2006, 01:46:05]

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