LCO Official Jailed For Misuse of Federal Funds

Nov 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-2: Tribal College Research, Tribal College News

A federal district court convicted a former official of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCO, Hayward, WI) of three counts of mail fraud for misuse of federal funds. The trial took place in federal district court in Madison, WI, in March 2004.

The trial followed internal and federal investigations that began in 2000. Thomas Flaschberger, the former director of vocational education programs at LCO, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, and a fine of $90,000.

Beginning in 1994, LCO had received funds for vocational education through the Wisconsin state government under the federal Carl Perkins Vocational Education Act. As a condition of receiving the grant, LCO agreed to share these funds with the other tribal college in the state, the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI) since CMN’s vocational student count was used to receive the funds.

However, from 1994 until 2001, the Menominee college never received its share of the funds. The total amount of the grant was about $900,000, a significant share of which CMN was supposed to have received based upon the number of students enrolled in vocational programs.

When this fact came to the attention of the new LCO college president, Sky Houser, in November 2000, he began an internal investigation, according to the Sawyer County Record. The investigation showed several problems with the grant, according to the college attorney’s report, as reported in the Lac Courte Oreilles Times: 1) no share of the funds had ever been sent to Menominee; 2) Flaschberger had falsified grant reports, including fabricating the names of students to inflate the LCO student count submitted; 3) Flaschberger had diverted a portion of the funds in question for use in partisan Republican political activities within the state; and 4) most of the funds had been spent on administrative salaries and travel, not on direct delivery of vocational education to students.

College officials at LCO turned this evidence over to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U. S. Department of Education, which continued the investigation. Flaschberger received an award from the state Republican Party shortly before he was indicted in 2003, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After his trial in the federal district court in Madison, WI, he was sentenced March 30, 2004.

For more information, see the OIG report at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/invtreports/wi012004.html

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