© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

St. Louis Community College Accuses Employee Of Embezzling $5.4 Million

St. Louis Community College
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Community College educates about 50,000 people annually through college credit courses and workforce development. It has accused an employee of stealing from a workforce training fund.

St. Louis Community College is suing one of its workers over allegations of financial mismanagement. The filing alleges the employee diverted more than $5 million in state worker-training money over roughly a decade.

"It was money that was intended to help people to advance in their careers and help employers with their existing employees," said the college’s chancellor, Jeff Pittman. He added, "It's frustrating and discouraging to believe that anybody would take advantage of a situation like this."

Donald Robison of the college's Workforce Solutions Group is on unpaid administrative leave as an investigation continues.

The case centers on allegations that the money was pumped into a company Robison set up.

"This employee had created a fictitious company that was registered with the state of Missouri and was diverting those funds from the state account into this fictitious company," Pittman said.

Robison, through his attorney, declined to comment for this story.

The college was alerted to the potential financial irregularities about a week ago and immediately launched an investigation. The college hired audit firm BKD CPA & Advisors and law firm Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale to help with the probe.

State and local authorities have been notified. A message from St. Louis Public Radio to the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office requesting additional information has not been returned.

Pittman said the college also alerted the affected state agency, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, about the possibly diverted money.

Robison has worked for St. Louis Community College in various roles since 1992, the college said, becoming a manager 10 years ago at Workforce Solutions Group, a job-training arm of the community college.

In that position, Robison handled and distributed money from the state agency’s Missouri Community New Jobs Training Fund for employee training. He was the only person with access to the funds, according to the college.

Companies can hire the community college to provide employee training directly or be reimbursed with the state funds for hiring a third-party trainer.

The lawsuit claims Robison directed money from the training fund to MS Services — a business entity he created in 1999 — as a vendor for job training. But that instruction never happened.

“At no point did MS Services actually provide training services to any employer participating in the Training Fund that could be legitimately entitled to such funds,” the lawsuit said.

Over 10 years, Robison funneled $5.4 million to MS Services by submitting false receipts to the state, the lawsuit alleges.

Follow Wayne & Ryan on Twitter: @wayneradio; @rpatrickdelaney

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Wayne Pratt is the Broadcast Operations Manager and former morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.
Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.