Embezzlement

With talks of budget decreases and tuition increases, students might think that UVM would notice the disappearance of more than $45,000. A long-term employee of UVM has been charged with the embezzlement of $45,800, the Burlington Free Press reported. Celine Bernier, an administrative assistant at the extension office in Newport, pleaded not guilty on charges of embezzlement, Director of Extension Douglas Lantange said. “You tend to have implicit trust in your long-term employees,” Lantange said to the Burlington Free Press. The case was first brought to officials’ attention last summer after Bernier was reported for attempting to deposit a $1,425 check written out to UVM Extension into her personal account, the Burlington Free Press reported. Bernier had been depositing such checks into her account for the past five years, Lantange said. Bernier realized it would be easy for her to “borrow” money because the bank did not question her when she first cashed a UVM check, according to the affidavit. If Bernier is found to be guilty, the punishment could be up to 10 years of jail time, a fine of up to $500, or both, according to Vermont state statutes. “Generally I would say that the sentence would be some sort of restitution along with minimal jail time or some sort of probation,” Detective Brandon King of UVM Police said. The school is developing a plan to avoid conflicts such as these in the future including training sessions for staff, he said. “We are working with the controllers office and the audit office to develop approaches to avoid this issue in the future,” Lantange said. “We also continue to provide information to all staff about upcoming changes.” “UVM, like any company, has this issue come up from time to time,” King said. “It is not often, but it happens on occasion.”