An audit released this morning by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found employees at the SUNY Research Foundation splurged on questionable items and contracts.

The report found that Edgar Turkle, a senior official at Buffalo State College, used his foundation credit card to purchase $130,887 worth of non-business related items. That included charging $22,2225 for tickets to the Buffalo Sabres and expenses for his wife’s birthday party, an IPad, iphones and chocolates and groceries.

“For too long, SUNY Research Foundation employees took advantage of lax oversight to cheat taxpayers, skirt state laws and violate the foundation’s own policies,” DiNapoli said. “The Research Foundation needs to vastly improve its internal controls, budgetary oversight, and ensure compliance with all relevant laws and policies. The foundation needs to recover all misspent funds immediately and fundamentally change how it operates.”

Turkle also spent public funds on travel, primairly to Asia, incurring an additional $125,342 in related costs.

The findings have been forwarded to law enforcement officials and Turkle has been terminated from his job, DiNapoli’s office said.

The report also found that the chancellor charged $27,968 for questionable items, including $13,172 for mostly alcoholic drinks, and $9,822 for the initiation fee and dues for the chancellor’s membership in a private club.

Update: The SUNY headquarters here in Albany responds, noting that Turkle was fired by SUNY before the audit was released and they were the ones who forwarded the case to law enforcement. SUNY also noted that the funds supposedly spent by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher actually came out of a larger pool of money that is earmarked for a variety of needs, including receptions — hence the large bill for drinks.

 

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