The former president of Westfield State University (WSU) Evan Dobelle is being sued by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley for allegedly using nearly $100,000 in school funds for his own personal expenses.
Dobelle allegedly filed $39,000 in travel expenses, claiming the trips were for official university business. The money, however, went towards a family trip to Cuba and exclusive gatherings at a men’s social club in California, among other trips, according to a statement released by the Attorney General’s office:
“We allege the former president of this university blatantly misused public funds for trips that were nothing but weeklong vacations with family and friends,’’ Coakley said. “This pattern of inappropriately spending state money is unacceptable, as leaders of public schools should be enforcing their policies instead of knowingly violating them for their own personal benefit.’’
Dobelle also allegedly submitted at least $59,000 in false claims for personal purchases during his tenure as president from 2008 to 2013, according to the complaint.
The former president first came under investigation last fall, after the Inspector General filed a report about his alleged misuse of school funds. A review of credit card statements and records revealed that Dobelle had allegedly made hundreds of personal purchases on school cards over his six-year tenure. And while he reimbursed the school for some charges, many of those payments were reportedly months late.
The university’s Board of Trustees voted to place Dobelle on administrative leave in October, according to MassLive. He resigned from his position on November 8, 2013 and filed a federal lawsuit against three WSU trustees and the higher education commissioner in the wake of the vote.