Grady requested FBI assistance with NIU coffee fund investigations

By Felix Sarver

The FBI was asked to help investigate two NIU administrators who had resigned, according to the Chicago Tribune.

According to the Chicago Tribune, NIU Police Chief Donald Grady asked the FBI for assistance about two months ago. Grady asked for help in the investigations of John Gordon, former Convocation Center director, and Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of Finance and Facilities. The FBI was asked to review financial records, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Gordon and Albanese left their positions in July.

On Oct. 16, Albanese was charged with theft, official misconduct, and violation of the State Property Control Act by the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office. Eight NIU employees were also charged with felonies and misdemeanors related to the coffee fund.

The coffee fund was an account NIU employees allegedly used to keep profits made from selling university scrap metal. The eight employees charged with allegations related to the coffee fund were put on administrative leave.

Darren Mitchell, acting NIU police chief, said the investigation and the FBI’s assistance is now on hold, according to the Chicago Tribune.

When asked about the FBI’s involvement in the NIU police investigations, Paul Palian, director of media and public relations, said in an email it is not appropriate for him to comment on the details of an ongoing criminal investigation. He also said he did not have the pertinent information needed to answer the question.

Mitchell said a meeting between the FBI and the NIU police was scheduled but has now been put off because of Grady’s suspension, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Because of a court finding in the trial of Andrew Rifkin, Grady was put on paid administrative leave on Nov. 10. The court found the NIU police had withheld two witness statements in the case; Rifkin, a former NIU police officer, was charged with sexual assault in November 2011.

The witness statements came from two people who said the actions between Rifkin and his alleged victim were consensual. Judge Robbin Stuckert said it was clear to her there was purposeful hiding of the statements by the NIU Police Department.

The NIU Police Department is banned from speaking to Grady, and Grady is banned from entering the NIU Police Department.

Palian said under the terms and conditions of an administrative leave, a person is not allowed access to office facilities, personnel or vehicles.

“This is standard procedure in a situation like this,” Palian said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Kathy Buettner, vice president for University Relations, said NIU administrators became aware of Grady’s request for FBI involvement after the Chicago Tribune asked questions about it on Friday.

Buettner said the university administration is not privy to the NIU police investigations, and the request for a forensic audit played no role in Grady’s suspension, according to the Chicago Tribune.