Former UT law facilities director defrauded UT out of roughly $1.56 million, memo says

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

The former Texas Law facilities director defrauded the law school of rougly $1.56 million, according to a memorandum sent Friday to UT President Gregory Fenves. 

The memo, which was provided to The Daily Texan, summarizes an investigation by an outside law firm and the Office of Internal Audits. According to the memo, former director Jason Shoumaker stole UT property, made personal purchases through law school accounts and caused the University to lose $1,566,281 because of an “elaborate pattern” of payments to outside vendors.

Law school dean Ward Farnsworth’s  “lack of oversight” of the school’s finances also resulted in “serious failures.” The the law school will fund a 12-month audit of the Office of Internal Audits’ investigation into the school’s internal business, according to a letter sent Aug. 30 to Farnsworth by Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost.

According to the letter provided to the Texan, there is no evidence that anyone else in the law school was involved in the employee’s fraudulent activities, but Farnsworth did not respond effectively to signs
of trouble. 

“When (Farnsworth was) alerted of concerns regarding (his) employee’s procurement and accounting practice irregularities, (Farnsworth) did not ensure his compliance with our policies regarding essential documentation and appropriate processes,” the letter reads.  

According to the memo, Shoumaker, who resigned in 2017, made payments through law school accounts without approval toward personal travel expenses and outside vendors who were friends with Shoumaker. 

The Office of Internal Audits was not alerted to these purchases until 2017, when the law school’s chief business operator contacted the office about payments made to a moving company in 2014 totaling about $700,000 more than the expected cost, according to the memo. 

Shoumaker’s other violations of UT policy included not disclosing a side business or consensual relationships he had with his employees, falsifying his educational qualifications in his resume and holding a city council position during his time as a law professor, according to the memo.

The office made 17 recommendations to Texas Law, Project Management and Construction Services and Procurement and Payment Services to increase fraud prevention and detection, according to the memo. The recommendations include having at least two law school representatives and Project Management and Construction Services approve all purchases and making sure employees are aware of the policies Shoumaker violated. 

“The School of Law considers the misconduct, and its consequences, a very serious matter,” according to a statement by the School of Law in the memo. “We agree that the audit recommendations and responses are appropriate. Some of the responsive actions we are taking would (or might) have stopped the misconduct if they had been taken earlier.” 

According to the memo, Shoumaker was arrested in May 2018 on six counts of tampering with government records, and felony charges were filed against him in December 2018 for property theft and abuse of official capacity. The Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Rangers are conducting criminal investigations regarding his actions, according to the memo. 

“The University takes these findings and the charges against Mr. Shoumaker extremely seriously and is continuing to cooperate with the ongoing criminal investigation,” UT spokesperson Gary Susswein said in a statement. “As a public university, we must always be good stewards of our budget and earn the public trust. We will work to prevent this type of behavior from occurring again.”