Prosecutor: No Charges Over Conflicting Testimony by UA Officials

by Lee Hogan  on Tuesday, Jun. 3, 2014 9:36 am  

G. David Gearhart

Contradictory testimony given under oath by the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville's chancellor and former spokesman to a legislative audit committee in September do not warrant prosecution, according to Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for the 6th Judicial District of Arkansas.

In a letter Monday to Roger Norman, the state legislative auditor who requested the review, Jegley said Chancellor G. David Gearhart and former spokesman John Diamond may have provided "differing versions of the events and discussions," but "none rise to meet the standards meriting further actions."

On Sept. 13, Diamond told members of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee that Gearhart led a "culture of secrecy" and ordered for documents relevant to an audit of the school's Advancement Division be destroyed. Gearhart denied the allegations and called them claims from a disgruntled former employee.

Diamond was fired in August for what the school said was insubordination after a conflict with his direct supervisor. Diamond claimed he was fired because of disagreements over the university's openness and accountability to the public.

Multiple audits of the division found massive overspending and a $4.2 million deficit. Officials found no evidence of fraud in the university division. Instead, the deficit was blamed on "financial incompetence" by former head of the Advancement Division Brad Choate, and his budget officer, Joy Sharp, who was also lost her job June 30. 

More: Prosecutor: No Criminal Activity, But Breakdown of Controls in UA's Advancement Division

In a statement Monday, Gearhart said he appreciated the diligence of Jegley and his review. 

"I believe this is the appropriate conclusion," Gearhart said. "We remain actively engaged in moving forward toward our goal of being nationally recognized as a top 50 public research university."

Diamond, who now works for the University of Wisconsin System, declined to comment on the decision not to prosecute, according to The Associated Press.



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