An FBI spokeswoman said the agency anticipated that its campus search would be “wrapped up” by today.
FBI and state police officials executed a search warrant on NIU’s campus Wednesday; the search seemed to focus on the NIU Police Department. Agent Joan Hyde of the FBI’s media office said she could not comment on what the agencies were looking for in their search because the investigators are subject to grand jury secrecy rules until charges are filed or arrests made, which has not happened yet. An Illinois State Police spokesman declined to comment.
NIU officials were surprised but planned to fully cooperate with the search. During a Wednesday news conference, Brad Hoey, director of Communications and Marketing, said he wanted to emphasize that the FBI’s activity was not in response to a public safety concern, which an FBI media advisory confirmed.
“We just want to clarify that there was no emergency and it was not about public safety,” Hyde said.
According to the media advisory, the search warrant was associated with “an ongoing criminal investigation” which the FBI, ISP and inspectors general offices of the U.S. Department of Education and Housing and Urban Development are involved with. Inspectors general are investigative officials.
“...Obviously this is an investigation that is being conducted by the state and federal agencies, so they’re the ones that will be providing any additional information,” Hoey said during a news conference.
It is unknown what the search was related to, but NIU has faced investigations throughout the year.
In August, allegations surfaced that university employees had been selling NIU-owned scrap metal and depositing the funds into a “coffee fund.” One former and eight current NIU employees were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors in relation to the fund in October. Donald Grady, former NIU Police chief, requested FBI assistance with the coffee fund investigations, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In September, claims surfaced against John Gordon, former Convocation Center director, and Robert Albanese, former associate vice president for finance and facilities. Allegedly, Gordon had a Convocation Center custodian clean his home and Albanese used NIU property for his own purposes at his home. Gordon resigned and Albanese retired effected July 31.
In November, Clay Campbell, former county state’s attorney, formally requested that the ISP investigate the NIU Police Department and Grady, then the chief. Campbell wanted the ISP to focus on the mishandling of evidence in the case of former NIU police officer Andrew Rifkin. Judge Robbin Stuckert said the NIU police withheld information in the case. In response, NIU President John Peters requested the ISP review how the NIU police department handled the case. The charges against Rifkin were dropped, but he has since been re-indicted for criminal sexual assault. Grady was terminated in February.