Confidence Expressed in OLC Management

Feb 15th, 1997 | By | Category: 8-4: Racism, Tribal College News

In the wake of allegations of embezzlement of Oglala Lakota College funds by two former OLC business office employees from 1991-1994, several people have expressed their confidence in the current OLC administration.

In March, U.S. Attorney Karen Schreier announced grand jury indictments of five people, including the two former administrators, for allegedly stealing more than $2.6 million from the tribal institution. The loss represented about 10 percent of the college’s operating budget in each of three years from 1991 to 1994.

The current college auditor (Keith Kinner of Kinner, Holmberg Inc.) said the alleged embezzlement activity came to an end in early January 1995 when Thomas Shortbull became the new president. “His hands-on style of reviewing disbursement and their related documentation prior to releasing payments led to the curtailment of the alleged criminal activity of the vice president of business and shortly thereafter to his resignation,” Kinner said in a letter sent to the college’s funding sources.

The auditor during the period of the alleged thefts did not report the transactions to college officials, according to Kinner. Named as a non-indicted co-conspirator, the former auditor is cooperating with federal authorities, according to an article in Indian Country Today.

Internal controls and safeguards have been implemented by the Shortbull administration, according to the current auditors. Kinner said they have confidence in the financial integrity of the institution and that OLC funds will be properly managed.

Veronica Gonzales, executive director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, says, “I have full confidence in Mr. Shortbull’s ability to provide strong financial leadership at OLC.” Shannon Finley, executive director of the American Indian College Fund, says, “We have been tremendously impressed with Mr. Shortbull’s leadership abilities and integrity, and our organization is confident of the proper distribution of all scholarship funds under Mr. Shortbull’s administration.”

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