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Former HACC VP charged with stealing more than $220K from college

By , - Last modified: January 3, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Former Harrisburg Area Community College executive vice president Nancy Rockey has admitted to stealing approximately $228,000 from the college, according to charges filed today.

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said in a news release that in February 2012, HACC officials became aware of improper expenditures Rockey had incurred, including some on her college-issued credit card, between 2007 and 2012. An audit was completed and showed that Rockey had taken $228,000 in funds from HACC.

Rockey's attorney, Adam Klein of Smigel, Anderson & Sacks LLP, said she "is very remorseful over what occurred; she plans on taking full responsibility for what occurred and has nothing but sincere apologies to the HACC community. She has served 31 years with HACC, and has raised tens of millions of dollars on its behalf, and this is a very sad day for her."

Rockey, 54, of Lower Paxton Township, has been charged with one third-degree felony count of theft by unlawful taking. She was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Barbara Pianka and released on $250,000 unsecured bail, with a requirement that she surrender her passport and not leave the state pending disposition of her case. Rockey also waived her right to a preliminary hearing.

"Stealing funds from an institution as important as HACC is to this community is reprehensible," Marsico said. He thanked administrators from HACC for their cooperation throughout the investigation and their referral of this matter to law enforcement.

"As a result of the internal investigation launched in February 2012, the college has put additional checks and balances into place for the use of college-issued credit cards," HACC president John J. "Ski" Sygielski said in a news release. "I, the HACC Board of Trustees and the HACC Foundation Board of Directors will continue to be vigilant in fiscal matters to ensure all funds are utilized in a financially responsible, ethical and open manner."

Timothy Sandoe, chairman of the HACC Board of Trustees, said the trustees are "confident in Dr. Ski's ability to move forward with honesty and integrity. The way Dr. Ski and his cabinet handled this matter is indicative of the expectations we expressed when we hired him in July 2011. There was no hesitation on his part as to the action the college needed to take on behalf of our board, students, donors and the entire HACC community."

"I pledge to be as open and transparent about this process as possible within legal restraints," Sygielski said. "As a public institution funded by federal, state and local funding and supported by private donors, HACC has a responsibility to be transparent in its financial practices. Although this situation is challenging for the HACC community, the safeguards are in place to prevent something like this from happening again."

The complaint said a personal expenditure of $4,000 was made on Rockey's college-issued credit card in February 2012.

"When confronted about this expenditure, Rockey admitted making the purchase and agreed to reimburse the college, which she did," the complaint said. "On Feb. 28, 2012, additional expenditures were discovered."

The complaint said a three-year audit showed multiple unauthorized expenditures in excess of $200,000, including gift cards for Amazon.com and Target and "large amounts" of textbooks that never appeared in the bookstore, were never distributed to staff or faculty or never showed up at various HACC continuing education venues. An additional audit for 2007 and 2008 showed more fraudulent charges or purchases.

HACC officials found that all of the textbook purchases were fraudulent, and that the actual expenditures were for Rockey's personal expenditures, including "power and light bills," Verizon Wireless and an iPad, the complaint said.

The complaint said several executives from HACC met investigators on July 2 and advised them of the allegedly fraudulent purchases. It said Rockey admitted to the thefts in an interview Dec. 5.

Click here to read the court documents.

Editor's note: This item has been modified from its previous version to include comments from Rockey's attorney, HACC President John J. "Ski" Sygielski and Timothy Sandoe, chairman of the HACC Board of Trustees.

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