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Ex-official at Springfield college stole TV, received unapproved travel expenses

A former vice president of business and economic development at Springfield Technical Community College stole a flat-screen television, hired his daughter, and received more than $7,000 in unapproved travel reimbursements, according to an audit released Thursday by State Auditor Suzanne Bump.

“This is an audit that details theft of state property and abuse of a public school’s rules and properties,” said Christopher Thompson, spokesman for Bump. “We think we have an obligation to make the public aware of the situation.”

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The audit was initiated after the school reported the theft of state property to the state auditor.

The college identified the former vice president as Thomas Goodrow. The Springfield Republican reported that Goodrow now works at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield as acting director of workforce development and continuing education.

Messages left on his office phone and and college his e-mail address Thursday afternoon were not returned.

According to the audit, Goodrow was captured on security cameras taking a television worth more than $1,000, a DVD player, and several cases of bottled water from the Springfield school.

When Goodrow learned of the surveillance tapes in 2009, he resigned and agreed to return the school’s property, according to auditor’s office.

The audit also revealed:

-- Goodrow was reimbursed $7,614 over a three-year period for unapproved travel expenses.

-- He also hired his daughter as a part-time consultant. Although she was paid $3,237, auditors could not find IRS tax forms, a job description, or timesheets for her position, according to the audit.

-- He hired three consultants at a cost of $173,121 without putting their contracts out to competitive bid.

“It was troubling to see both an individual and a system that lack an ability to enforce those rules,” Bump said in the statement. “I commend Springfield Technical Community College for the action they have taken to see such violations do not occur again.”

The college’s president, Ira H. Rubenzahl, said school officials had a “series of conversations” and conducted their own internal investigation after the allegations were first reported to the state auditor’s office in 2009.

Since then, Rubenzahl said, the college had worked “very diligently” to firm up its policies, and brought the matter before its board of trustees.

“We’ve been proactive to make sure we changed our controls to make sure this wouldn’t reoccur,” he said in an interview. “We did not wait three years to get this report to make the changes we needed to make.”

Thompson said the school chose not to pursue criminal action and said his office would refer the audit to the State Ethics Commission.

The auditor’s office, along with the US Education Department, is also conducting an inquiry of Roxbury Community College involving several issues, including potential lapses in reporting crimes.

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at melissa.werthmann@globe.com.
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