NIU investigation into coffee fund continues

By Felix Sarver and Kelly Bauer

NIU’s investigation into the “coffee fund” continues.

On Aug. 3, the Daily Chronicle reported the alleged existence of a coffee fund. Bill Kunkel, head of transportation at the DeKalb Iron and Metal Company (DIMCO), told the Daily Chronicle several employees from NIU’s Physical Plant sold scrap metal from the university to DIMCO for at least the past 25 years.

NIU employees selling the scrap metal would put the money in an account known as the coffee fund, Kunkel said. Checks from DIMCO since 2005 totaled more than $13,000, according to the Daily Chronicle.

The university learned of the alleged fund through the Daily Chronicle and launched an investigation the same day, said Paul Palian, director of media and public relations, in an email. Heading the investigation is the NIU police department, according to NIU Today.

The field under investigation falls under the authority of Eddie Williams, executive vice president of business and finance and chief of operations. Williams has directed Northern Star inquires about the investigation to Palian.

“It would be inappropriate and premature for the university to comment on the status of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Palian said.

When asked if Williams would speak to outlets outside of NIU at the end of the investigation, Palian said the university reserves the right to comment on findings at the appropriate time following its completion.

DIMCO Preisdent Jeff Gorman said his company is involved in the investigation. The NIU police has been speaking with Kunkel, who is still working with DIMCO, about any information they requested, he said.

“The information they request, we provide,” Gorman said.

When asked if NIU employees sold scrap metal to DIMCO without supervisors of the Physical Plant knowing, Gorman said the people in charge of those NIU employees would have to be asked that.

Before the investigation of the coffee fund, NIU was investigating other, unrelated allegations within their administration, Palian said. The subjects of the investigation were Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of operations in Finance and Facilities, and former Convocation Center Director John Gordon. Gordon’s resignation and Albanese’s retirement were announced on July 31.

Palian said he has no information on what these allegations were due to the confidentiality of the employee personnel process.