Former UK employee facing federal theft and fraud charges, allegedly falsely spent over $250K

Posted at 2:31 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 14:31:47-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A former employee at the University of Kentucky has been indicted by a grand jury on theft and fraud charges after she allegedly spent over $256,000 of school funds to buy Apple IT equipment and other personal items.

Stephanie Carpenter used to work as an Administrative Support Associate at the university's College of Education's STEM Department. A recently filed indictment charges Carpenter with three counts of federal program funds theft and six counts of wire fraud for purchases she made while employed at the university.

According to a 2020 internal audit and the indictment, Carpenter used her UK procurement card to spend nearly $242,718 on Apple IT equipment and accessories, including at least 84 iPhones, 55 MacBooks, and 22 iPads from April 2017 through March 2020.

The audit says she also spent $3,288.99 on other high-tech equipment, $9,634.67 in travel expenses, and $555.83 on other personal items purchased on Amazon and shipped to her home. An additional $6,625.52 of Carpenter's purchases had no documentation to "validate the appropriateness of the expenditures," the audit said. The audit also included examples of forged signatures, altered dates, and altered travel documents.

Another College of Education employee, Derita Graves, accrued $972.54 in personal expenditures of her own, according to the audit.

"Their conduct would not have been possible, however, were it not for demonstrably poor business practices in the CoE (College of Education) that allowed this activity to proceed, without suspect, for nearly three years — essentially SC's (Stephanie Carpenter) entire tenure," the audit said. "These vulnerabilities included inadequate separation of duties related to procard purchases and insufficient reconciliation practices that were exacerbated by a lack of oversight by both the departmental management and CoE administration."