March 8, 2010

Former Cornell University Finance Administrator Indicted for Embezzlement

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A former Cornell employee received two years of probation last Thursday for embezzling $20,000 from Chicago’s tourism agency where she worked from 1997 to 2006, according to local reports.

Ming Liu Bengtsson directed financial transactions for Cornell as manager for accounting from 2006 to 2009 before joining the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Law in 2009 as assistant dean for finance and human resources.

But before she worked for the two universities, Bengtsson had forged the signature of the Chicago Tourism Fund’s executive director and written herself a $20,000 check in August 2004, when she had access to the fund’s checking account as the project administrator at the city of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, according to The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

The inconsistent signature caught the eyes of the inspector general’s office four years later. Bengtsson was indicted last August on theft, official misconduct and forgery. These charges could land her in prison for up to seven years. Although Bengtsson first pled not guilty, she later agreed to a plea bargain and repaid the $20,000 embezzlement in court last Thursday.

Bengtsson’s employment at Illinois began on June 1, 2009 at an annual salary of $115,000, according to the university’s trustee minutes last July. She resigned from her position on Aug. 31, UI’s spokesperson told the News-Gazette last September.

Her husband, Ola Bengtsson, is a former faculty member of Cornell’s Johnson School of Management and is now assistant professor of finance at the College of Business at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, according to his personal website.

While she was at Cornell, Bengtsson also contributed at the Kuali Foundation, according to the open source administrative software’s database. Cornell contributes to the development of this non-profit organization, a former University administrator told The Sun in March 2008, and many names on its directory are affiliated with Cornell.

Original Author: Venus Wu