Published September 7, 2017
Editor's note: On Sept. 7, Dennis Black, former vice president for university life and services, pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court to second-degree grand larceny and first-degree filing a false instrument; Andrea Costantino, former director of Campus Living, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny.
Dear University Community,
Today, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office held a press conference announcing that a former UB employee has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of grand larceny and another former UB employee has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of grand larceny and an additional felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing.
This matter stems from a university audit conducted by UB’s Office of Internal Audit in April 2016. This audit was conducted at my direction due to concerns of financial mismanagement in the former University Life and Services organization.
The UB audit uncovered a pattern of financial abuse, including the misappropriation of state funds in the former University Life and Services organization and the Faculty-Student Association.
In July 2016, I, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel for SUNY, directed UB’s Office of Internal Audit to refer this matter to the New York State Office of the Inspector General. Concurrently, this matter was referred to the SUNY Fraud Committee.
In July 2016, the Office of the Inspector General assumed responsibility for this investigation. Throughout the investigation, UB cooperated fully with the Office of the Inspector General. Going forward, UB will cooperate fully with the Office of the District Attorney and the Office of the Inspector General.
As soon as we uncovered the financial abuse, the University at Buffalo took swift and appropriate measures to tighten financial controls in both the former University Life and Services organization and the Faculty-Student Association, including assigning authority for all financial decisions and transactions to the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
As a university, we are taking every measure to ensure that a clear and consistent set of appropriate business protocols and best financial practices are met in every organization of our university. Across UB, we are exercising the utmost diligence in ensuring that all of our university operations adhere to appropriate business protocols and best practices. Integrity and accountability inform every action we take, including taking appropriate and efficient steps when we discover instances where these standards may not have been upheld.
Let me restate that, as a campus community and as a public research university, we are dedicated to upholding exemplary standards of integrity and ethical conduct in every aspect of our university. In principle and practice, these values are central to our mission.
Satish K. Tripathi