ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- A Missouri Baptist University employee has been charged with embezzling about $107,000 since being promoted to the university controller’s position in 2009.
St. Louis County prosecutors charged 48-year-old Melinda Okai of O’Fallon, Mo., with theft of more than $25,000, a felony carrying a penalty of between five and 15 years in prison.
According to media reports, Okai allegedly executed fraudulent refund checks and took out numerous emergency student loans for her husband, who had been a student at Missouri Baptist University, between December 2009 and May of this year.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Okai confessed to her employer but refused to make a statement to police in Creve Coeur, the St. Louis suburb where the university’s main campus is located.
The newspaper quoted court documents alleging that Okai used two strategies. One involved refund checks that are issued when a government educational loan exceeds the amount of charges from the university. The other was emergency loans of up to $1,000 that are credited to students’ accounts in anticipation of receiving loan payments.
Police said Okai executed numerous loans on her husband’s account but never credited the loans to his tuition. She was listed as her husband’s responsible billing party, so the checks were listed in her name and posted to her personal bank account, according to court documents.
Discrepancies reportedly totaling $107,406.39 were discovered during an internal audit.