Board of Trustees candidate suggests forensic audit of College of DuPage
A retired certified public accountant and candidate for the College of DuPage Board of Trustees says he has many questions surrounding the situation involving spending by the college’s radio station.
Charles Bernstein is running with candidates Frank Napolitano and Deanne Marie Mazzochi to fill the three positions that are open. Bernstein questioned how former engineer John Valenta was allowed to sign his own invoices over a decade for purchases totaling over $400,000 from a company he owned.
“That shows a lack of internal control in the organization. When I can sign invoices and they’re paying me, that’s a big problem,” he said.
Bernstein believes the purchases would have been discovered and halted much earlier if the college had a strong set of internal controls. He called for the college to undergo a forensic audit that goes much deeper than a traditional audit.
“This was not picked up by the auditors, and I don’t fault them for that. When you do an audit, you pick up samples, you don’t get everything,” Bernstein said. “We really need to do a forensic audit of several areas of the college.” Those areas include the radio station, Waterleaf Restaurant and construction projects that the college spent more than half a billion dollars on from 2009 to 2014, according to Bernstein.
After attending a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, Bernstein said that the Board reported that the money Valenta billed the college for – more than $400,000 in total - amounted to about $28,000 a year and was "not material when compared to the college’s budget." The board reports it had no knowledge of Valenta’s activities, something Bernstein questions.
Elmhurst College reportedly notified the College of DuPage in 2011 of Valenta’s criminal conviction while working there, when he pleaded guilty in May 2012 of using his side business, Broadcast Technologies, to steal money. The College of DuPage says it had no knowledge of Valenta’s prior record.
“My understanding is that there is a record, but the board says they don’t know. Someone really dropped the ball at the College of DuPage,” Bernstein said. “They say that once they learned about it, they were not allowed to talk about it because it was an ongoing investigation, but that still raises questions.”
Bernstein does not know of any other area in the college where situations like the one involving Valenta have occurred. Regardless, Bernstein believes that the public is paying more attention to the goings on at the College of DuPage in the wake of a severance package for President Robert Breuder and the revelations about Valenta’s activities involving the college radio station.
“It ought to be a wake-up call," he said. "If we can get a new board, fill the Board of Trustees with the slate I’m on, we can ask for and demand a real investigation into internal controls and bring in a forensic auditor. If we don’t find anything, that would be wonderful, but to go on as we are, I don’t think that cuts it and is a bad outcome.”