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State Official Reportedly Admits Fraud

United Press International

A high-ranking official of the state community college system admitted to investigators on the day of his arrest on embezzlement charges that “I’ve done wrong,” according to reports of tape-recorded interviews filed in court.

The official, Robert F. Howard, 42, is accused of grand theft and conflict of interest in what authorities said was a scheme to defraud the state of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Howard has been placed on administrative leave from his post as acting dean of student services and special programs.

Investigators allege that Howard set up a phony consulting firm, McNary & McNary, and regularly paid it several thousand dollars a month in state funds, starting in 1983.

The interviews were conducted Sept. 26 by agents of the state Department of Justice.

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At one point, the interviewer said, “I think you’ve been admitting to me that you’ve been stealing money.”

“Howard nodded his head affirmatively while this was being said, and answered ‘yeah’ and ‘yes,’ ” the report said.

Howard was quoted as saying he believed that he would probably get in trouble for making the payments, adding, “I’ve done wrong.”

Howard told investigators it was too easy to get away with the arrangement since there was no review process over selection of contracts.

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