Albanese accepts plea deal

By Jessi Haish

Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of Finance and Facilities, accepted a plea deal Tuesday in regard to the “Coffee Fund” case.

“Basically, what I would like to do is apologize to the NIU community for not being a better steward,” Albanese said. “I was in charge of something and it got away from me. I really apologize.”

Albanese pleaded guilty to violating the State Property Conduct Act, a class B misdemeanor. Albanese was fined $825 and was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision. As part of the plea deal, felony charges of theft and misconduct were dropped. If Albanese completes court supervision, there will be no conviction recorded on his criminal history.

In August, allegations surfaced that university employees had been selling NIU-owned scrap metal and depositing the profits into a “coffee fund.” Albanese, who had retired effective July 31, and eight NIU employees were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors in relation to the fund in October. Donald Grady, former chief of the NIU Police Department, requested FBI assistance with the coffee fund investigations, according to the Chicago Tribune.

As of August, the fund had about $2,100 in it.

Charges against the other defendants remain open, according to a news release from the office of the DeKalb County State’s Attorney. The release also said the office “will not provide further comment pending the resolution of those cases.”

Paul Palian, director of media and public relations, said NIU would not comment on the plea deal because Albanese is not an employee of NIU.