LCC Lawyer Accuses Interim Pres. of Misusing Funds

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In the middle of a happy event, the ribbon-cutting for a new memorial garden at Lansing Community College, Interim President Judith Cardenas found herself facing charges of misusing college funds.

"We're more than happy to investigate the allegations placed upon us," Cardenas told News 10. "Lansing Community College has nothing to hide. We respect the process and the integrity of the process. We look forward to resolving the issues."

Cardenas took over as interim president earlier this year after the departure of Paula Cunningham.

The allegations come in a letter from LCC in-house lawyer Timothy Zeller to the state auditor general. The letter was obtained by the Lansing State Journal.

Among the letter's complaints: Excessive overtime, inappropriate raises, and extravagant gifts on company credit cards. Another accuses Cardenas of hiring someone to help her write a book or finish a degree. The last says she bought items or services from an outside group she was working for.

College Trustee Kathy "K.P." Pelleran says as soon as the board received the letter, the president took appropriate action.

"She had asked for an audit comittee and at the same time, said there was no wrongdoing on her part," Pelleran said.

Wrongdoing or not, the charges come amid nearly a full calendar year of scandal at the college, including the departure of former president Cunningham, and now, allegations against the woman who has temporarily replaced her.

It's troubling to LCC's founding president, Philip Gannon.

"The problems the college is facing right now take away from the mission and what we're trying to do do for this community," Gannon said.

Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Laverty, who was highly critical of earlier problems, says he's skeptical of the new charges.

"I do not believe the allegations are true, but we are required to do our due diligence to get to the bottom of this," Laverty said.

Diligence he says will include external and internal audits to try and determine whether the charges of misusing money are true.