- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2003

Officials at the University of the District of Columbia yesterday could not say if they have made any headway in their 2-week-old investigation into financial files that were reported stolen amid media inquiries about the school’s expenditures.

“The investigation is ongoing. We want to make sure we do this right, and we have questioned a number of people in the case,” Mark Andrews, UDC director of communications and alumni affairs, said yesterday.

UDC campus police began investigating the incident July 11, when the documents were first reported stolen from the office of Accounting Operations Manager Mark Lassiter.

The Washington Times reported yesterday that the theft of the financial records coincided with The Times’ inquiries about the hiring of UDC’s new provost and WAMU-FM radio’s inquiries about expenditures on the president’s house.

The stolen files contain documents regarding the school’s payroll, the financial affairs of UDC President William L. Pollard and expenses in renovating his home, and other executive spending, according to a staffer familiar with the finance department, where the theft occurred.

Two weeks ago, campus police received a report from Mr. Lassiter about the theft of files from his cubicle-style office on the third floor of UDC Building No. 38. Campus police reported the incident July 15 to Metropolitan Police, who were discouraged by university officials from investigating until an internal probe is completed.

Mr. Andrews yesterday said he did not know if Mr. Lassiter’s files had been stored via computer or if anyone has checked to see that the files are still available via computer.

Robert T. Robinson, vice president for public safety and emergency management, will not comment on any aspect of the internal investigation, Mr. Andrews said. Mr. Robinson, who reports directly to Mr. Pollard, is leading the investigation.

It could not be determined whether the theft of the files is linked to The Times’ inquiries into Mr. Pollard’s hiring of Wilhelmina M. Reuben-Cooke as the university’s new provost and vice president of academic affairs.

The Times first reported July 11 that Mr. Pollard had hired his family friend for the $137,000-a-year job even though she lacked the requisite experience and education for the administrative post. Mrs. Reuben-Cooke, who started her new job July 15, is married to D.C. lawyer Edmund Cooke, who helped Mr. Pollard secure his $200,000-a-year job at the university.

It also could not be determined whether the theft is linked to reports on “The D.C. Politics Hour” on WAMU-FM (88.5) about expenditures on Mr. Pollard’s university home. WAMU first reported on the remodeling expenses, estimated at more than $100,000, on June 27.

No other items were taken from Mr. Lassiter’s office, said a school official familiar with the incident. No other offices or cubicles were burglarized.

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