Former FAMU employee fights for job, freedom

Former Florida A&M University employee, Albert C. Smith, was fired early December 2008 for allegedly taking $3,160 from the Athletic Department in November 2007, according to a police report.

Smith, who worked in the Athletics Department, was arrested on Dec. 16, 2008.

He was charged with grand theft – an amount no less than $300 and no more than $5,000.
Smith’s attorney, Barbara Hobbs said her client pleaded not guilty.

“We’re going go to trial,” Hobbs said. “First we’ve got to do some discoveries on how they can prove it’s missing.”

FAMU Audit and Compliance Office reported a theft of funds on Dec. 5, 2008.

According to Charles O’Dour, vice president of Audit and Compliance, Smith took the funds from the alumni band coordinator and failed to return it to FAMU’s Athletic Department.

FAMU Chief Communication Officer, Sharon Saunders, was not available for comment.
The $3,160 was from the sale of armbands for the alumni band members.

In the police report, Alumni Band Coordinator, Victor Gaines, said he paid Smith $1,700, a partial payment for the armbands on Nov. 2, 2007.

This was for a total of 150 armbands at retail price $40 each to use for entrance into the Homecoming game.

Gaines said he returned 83 armbands that were not sold to Smith.

Later, Gaines said he paid the remaining balance of $980 and purchased an additional 12 armbands, which comes to a total of $3,160.

Smith gave Gaines a signed receipt for the armbands.

Sports Information Director, Alvin Hollins, declined to comment because the case is still under investigation.

According to the police report, Smith initially said he had placed the entire amount into the drop safe located in the FAMU ticket office.

Smith later said that he did not deposit the money.

He also admitted in the police report that he feels responsible for the missing money and that he told FAMU Audit and Compliance Office that he would repay the money.

FAMU attorney, Avery McKnight, said he could not comment at this time since this matter is currently in litigation (both civil/administrative and criminal).

During interrogation, the police gave Smith the chance to clear up the inconsistencies in his statement.

Smith said he took the money for personal reasons.

Currently Smith is also litigating with an employment attorney to get his job back.

Carolyn Cummings, Smith’s employment attorney, said right now they are waiting on documentation from FAMU.

“We’ve got deposition to take,” Cummings said.  “Once I get the documentation from FAMU we’ll review it.  I’ll be taking deposition.”