KENNESAW, Ga. -
Five high level administrators at Kennesaw State University lost their jobs in the wake of a Fox 5 I-Team investigation into the program that provides the food for 33-thousand students.
Gone are General Counsel Dr. Flora Devine, Vice President for Operations Dr. Randy Hinds, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Rod Bossert, Associate Vice President for Operations Maria Britt and Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary Services Randy Shelton.
Last fall, the director of culinary services Gary Coltek quickly resigned after the FOX 5 I-Team began asking questions about using KSU resources for his personal businesses. We found his emails filled with personal work. His secretary later told the GBI Coltek had her personally bill KSU vendors on the side, including $20,000 to a major KSU vendor, Sodexo, plus a $3500 monthly fee, all during the time he was supposed to be supervising Sodexo's multi-million dollar contract to feed KSU students and faculty.
Sodexo would only say "all allegations related to this matter have been addressed."
"You should have been doing your job and overseeing this," said Snellville attorney Mike Puglise about the five administrators removed from their jobs. "And you didn't do it."
Puglise represents two KSU accountants and that secretary who complained to Board of Regents investigators after seeing our October, 2015 investigation into former dining services director Coltek.
Coltek built an impressive reputation, the walls of the Commons Dining Hall covered with his KSU accomplishments. In 2015, he denied to us doing anything wrong.
"I absolutely do everything I do every single day for our students," he told us while visiting his off-campus private office during school hours. "For our community, for our students."
A few weeks later he resigned. Coltek's supervisor was Randy Shelton, the Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services. According to a letter from the Board of Regents, investigators found Shelton was also paid on the side to do "consulting work for a current KSU vendor."
Perhaps even worse, it says Shelton manipulated the awarding of the contract to run KSU dining services by privately meeting with one of the bidders. That came from another tip to the Board of Regents from one of the accountant whistleblowers following our Coltek investigation. This week, Shelton resigned, stating in a letter to the Board "I (did not) intentionally violate any policies or procedures at Kennesaw State or the University System of Georgia."
The Board of Regents audit called for the entire dining services contract to be rebid. Auditors found a once-proud dining division, responsible for feeding 33,000 students, actually operating "at a deficit with a negative fund balance."
Meanwhile, the GBI continues its criminal investigation. Attorney Puglise said some people should go to jail.
"All those numbers in that audit came from those accountants who said these books are cooked," he pointed out. "These numbers aren't jiving. Showing them doing a great job when they're not and then giving themselves enormous pay raises. At the taxpayer's dime. This is direct theft."
One of the top administrators fired is Associate Vice President of Operations Maria Britt. She headed up the internal investigation into questions the FOX 5 I-Team raised about Coltek last year. Although KSU never provided her findings to us, we did obtain a September, 2015 email from Britt to Coltek, the investigator assuring him "Gary, there's nothing here. We'll get through this."
"When this investigation started, it was gee... no misconduct here," responded attorney Puglise. "Move along. Move along Mr. Travis. No misconduct here."
Now both Coltek and Britt are gone.
The audit also slammed KSU administrators for failing to properly manage Coltek and his "alleged malfeasance." And the audit included this surprise: KSU tried to prevent the FOX 5 I-Team from getting a 2013 document which reprimanded Coltek for years of bad behavior.
That embarrassing report detailed Coltek hiring family members, falsifying tax documents and using KSU staff to do personal work. KSU also failed to share this report with the attorney general's office per policy. Despite that report in 2013, Coltek was allowed to remain at KSU.
According to the audit, when the FOX 5 I-Team asked for Coltek's personnel file, KSU tried to remove the 2013 Coltek reprimand. It was "ultimately turned over... after the requestor (FOX 5) specified that his request included the... reprimand."
"It opened up a pandora's box," Puglise explained. "So they couldn't keep it covered up."
A separate Board of Regents audit was released a day before the sudden retirement of longtime KSU president Doctor Dan Papp, accusing him of receiving compensation and car allowances for which he was not entitled. Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Houston Davis has been named Interim President.