NIU spills the (coffee) beans on investigated fund

By Kelly Bauer & Felix Sarver

Update, 9:05 p.m.: Clay Campbell, DeKalb County state’s attorney, said he knew the coffee fund existed before the announcement was made today.

Campbell said he has an obligation as a state’s attorney not to comment on an ongoing investigation. He said he is committed to the investigation and has been briefed by NIU.

Campbell also said his office will have the opportunity to review the investigation once it is complete. After they review the investigation, Campbell said the office will make a determination of where to go from there.


Update, 8:18 p.m.: NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith said the investigation into the coffee fund is ongoing so he cannot release information about it.

“We’re still following up on leads,” Smith said.


The existence of a coffee fund, allegedly provided for through money NIU employees made by selling scrap metal, has been confirmed.

Paul Palian, media and public relations director, said the account was not authorized by NIU. Palian said the bank account that held the coffee fund had about $2,100 in it as of August 2012. The money was deposited in the university’s general fund following the closure of the account.

“University funds belong in university accounts, simple as that,” Palian said.

The university continues to look into the matter. NIU is determining whether the use of these funds in this matter is a violation of university policy and/or state law, according to an NIU Today article. Palian said he didn’t know when that point of determination would come.

When asked if NIU knew how much money had passed through the coffee fund account, Palian said he “can’t speculate.”

In an Aug. 29 Northern Star article, Monique Bond, Illinois State Police (ISP) spokesperson, said the ISP are reviewing the case of alleged misconduct by NIU employees.

Sgt. Jose DeJesus, state police spokesperson, said the investigation is “preliminary” and the state police force still has to decide what their investigative role will be. DeJesus said the ISP are supposed to be meeting with NIU officials to determine who would proceed with this investigation.

According to an Aug. 4 Daily Chronicle article, NIU employees would take scrap metal to the DeKalb Iron & Metal Co. (DIMCO), where they sold it and deposited the funds into a fund. The Daily Chronicle article said the company has electronic records that date back to February 2005 and DIMCO checks indicate the company has paid out more than $13,000 in checks to the account since that time.

In an Aug. 27 Northern Star article, DIMCO President Jeff Gorman said his company is involved in the investigation.

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

The fund has existed for over 20 years at a local bank, according to the NIU Today article. Palian said he doesn’t know which bank the account was located at.

Any determination of criminal charges as a result of this investigation will be made by the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office, according to the NIU Today article. Clay Campbell, DeKalb County state’s attorney, was not immediately available for comment to the Northern Star.