A University of Central Arkansas employee was fired Monday after an investigation found he oversaw the financial aid of a friend, advised that friend on how to get a scholarship renewed and filed paperwork on a damaged car wheel that allowed the friend to get about $1,300.
Andrew Linn, the assistant director and scholarship coordinator at UCA, was fired after refusing to resign, according to UCA emails between him and President Tom Courtway.
Linn did not return a phone message left Thursday evening on his cell phone.
Text messages, audio recordings of official interviews and handwritten notes in Linn’s personnel file show UCA officials believe Linn was friends with Cameron Stark, a former student who used UCA keys belonging to then Chief of Staff Jack Gillean to break into buildings and steal exams. He oversaw Stark’s financial aid even though students are assigned alphabetically and Stark should not have been under Linn alphabetically, according to records in Linn’s personnel file.
The university released Linn’s personnel file Thursday after Linn did not file paperwork with the state Attorney General by deadline seeking an opinion on whether the university can withhold the records under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
Linn is at the center of a whirlwind case involving break-ins on campus, stolen exams and stolen prescription medication. He filed the police report about a break-in in June and identified Stark in a video that eventually lead to Stark’s arrest.
Gillean was charged with four felonies, including commercial burglary, and a misdemeanor in October. Stark is the key witness against Gillean.
Internal Audit Director Pamela Massey wrote in an audit released in December that auditors found there has been “fraudulent behavior of upper administration in the last four years at UCA.”
Courtway has not said whether more firings are planned.
Interviewers who asked Linn questions made a list of discrepancies Linn made and noted his behavior could be inappropriate and a conflict of interest. Stark and Linn visited each other outside the workplace. They also had beer together.
Linn has said repeatedly the two are acquaintances.
Stark had been “pestering” Linn for money, according to Financial Aid Director Cheryl Lyons.
Texts between Stark and Linn show multiple talks about money and Stark’s scholarship.
The internal audit report found Linn increased Stark’s cost of attendance for transportation after the student’s car was damaged. The payment was allowed even though Financial Aid only gave transportation increases for “excessive mileage,” according to a write-up of an interview with Lyons.
“She stated that she talked to him about the transportation adjustment and that they had discontinued those several years before,” according to interview notes by General Counsel Associate Katie Henry and Associate Vice President of Administrative Services Graham Gillis, Jr.
When auditors pointed out the adjustment, Linn said Stark deserved more money because his vehicle had been stolen and recovered damaged. But the wheels for the vehicle were estimated before the car was reported stolen March 8, 2010. Police recovered Stark’s vehicle March 12, 2010, but a document showing the amount of the wheels, $1,395, was printed from a UCA campus printer March 8.
One document, dated March 10, 2010, indicating the rims for Stark’s vehicle were discontinued was missing from Stark’s file when auditors first looked at his file but appeared sometime afterward, according to audio recordings. Lyons said in recordings that auditors may have overlooked that document.
Linn said in the recordings the stolen vehicle incident doesn’t matter for the adjustment because it was given on separate grounds from the police report.
Internal Audit also investigated the scholarship documentation of 11 students who were reviewed because of their association with Gillean. One student was awarded the Presidential Scholarship in 2006-2007, but UCA allowed it to be put on hold for military service and readmission in fall 2008.
Stark served in the military, although the name of the student is not in the report. His name is mentioned in relation to the scholarship in audio recordings.
Upon review of the student’s course and grade history, auditors found Stark completed 26 hours the 2010-2011 school year, even though at least 30 hours and a grade point of 3.25 is required.
The director of Special Projects was unable to give auditors “supporting documentation or evidence of supervisory approval.” Director Larry Burns said the renewal was “based on a medical exception but also could not provide supporting documentation,” according to the audit report. The scholarship is worth thousands.