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Librarian steals thousands from USF | News

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Librarian steals thousands from USF

TAMPA, Fla. - As a USF librarian was charging thousands of dollars in personal expenses to her university charge card, state auditors were imploring USF officials to increase oversight over their PCard system.

According to a USF investigation completed last summer, USF Health librarian Beverly Shattuck, 64, abused her "PCard," or purchasing card, privileges. From 2010 to early 2012, she used her PCard and department Publix charge card to expense personal groceries, Southwest Airlines gift cards, iPads, cell phone bills, and personal storage units (read the July '12 report here).

Meanwhile, USF was cited by three straight operational audits (2008, 2010, 2012) for problems supervising PCard use. Earlier this month, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee sent a letter to USF asking what the university has done to address the problems in the year since the latest audit (read the March '12 report here or the March '13 legislative letter). 

On Thursday, USF Chief Operating Officer John Long lead a special subcommittee to improve oversight of the PCard program, designed to help employees make small purchases and travel arrangements quickly. The university also gets a 1.5 percent rebate back on most purchases.

Last year, USF made 173,000 PCard purchases totaling $42 million. The university received more than $631,000 in rebates from Bank of America.

But certain purchases, like coffee, computers, and parking are not allowed on the cards, and both Long and Board of Trustees Chair John Ramil say they are aiming for improvement.

"We're always in the process of improving," Long said. "We never stop and rest on our laurels."

Among the proposed improvements discussed Thursday were mandatory classroom training for the thousands of USF PCard users, stiffer penalties for those who misuse the cards, and lower credit limits to avoid more problems like Beverly Shattuck's.

Officials from USF Health declined comment Thursday, but they acknowledged Shattuck was not fired when her alleged theft was discovered; she was allowed to retire with benefits.

USF investigators turned their theft reports over to USF police last year, but only eight months later, on March 21 -- a day after 10 News started asking questions about Shattuck -- was the case referred to the State Attorney.

A spokesman from Mark Ober's office confirms charges are still pending, more than a year after Shattuck resigned.

10 News was unable to reach Shattuck for comment; the librarian relocated to North Carolina prior to her retirement and is believed to still be living in Virginia Beach. Many of the inappropriate expenses she charged were related to her travel and unapproved telecommuting.

Public records indicate Shattuck had numerous financial problems, from foreclosure to eviction to several IRS liens. She also told USF investigators about several sick family members.

Shattuck was one of the university's highest-paid employees ($150,905 annual salary) as well as one of its largest PCard users ($146,851 in FY'12) despite leaving the university with a third of the fiscal year remaining.

USF investigators identified $7,820 lost through Shattuck's mis-charges. They also identified more than $46,000 in annual leave and sick leave Shattuck misclaimed, but only $11,028 was actually paid out by the time the problem was discovered.

"The strength of the system," Long said, "is that you can run but you can't hide."

"Anytime we are wasteful of state taxpayers' money, we should be outraged," said State Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-New Port Richey, a member of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.  "We're trying to put a check & balance in place and I hope (USF) takes it more seriously in the future."

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.


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