Former Conn College employee faces 20 years for embezzlement

The former director of auxiliary services at Connecticut College is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to using various embezzlement schemes to steal $173,000 during his time at the college.

Michael Kmec, 40, of Marlborough waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court to one count of wire fraud related to an embezzlement scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Kmec started working at the college in 2006 and, after serving as director of dining services, was promoted to the director of auxiliary services in 2014, where he oversaw the print shop, bookstore, vending machines, transportation, laundry services and residence halls.

Kmec also oversaw the program for the Camel Card, an identification and debit card used at the college. As part of his responsibilities, he was responsible for the approval of various third-party reimbursements for services to the college.

College spokeswoman Tiffany Thiele said in a statement that, through a planned review of auxiliary operations, the college identified the former employee’s misconduct earlier this year.

"We immediately reported it to law enforcement and fully cooperated with the investigation," Thiele said.

An FBI investigation revealed that beginning in 2014, and continuing until the time he was fired by Connecticut College in April 2018, Kmec used various illegal means to defraud the college.

The schemes included “receiving funds from the college through fraudulent billing schemes, diverting checks to the college to a bank account he controlled, diverting money from the Camel Card program to bank accounts he controlled, and misappropriating a college laptop,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Investigators said that beginning in 2015, Kmec sent fraudulent invoices to the college from a company called Connecticut Business Systems. Kmec approved and paid the invoices, depositing the money into a PayPal account he controlled. Between 2015 and 2018, he fraudulently billed and received approximately $24,872.

In 2016, investigators said Kmec created a limited liability company called Decal Graphics of Connecticut and submitted fraudulent invoices to the college from that company. Payments from the college totaling $100,574 were sent to a bank account controlled by Kmec. It is unclear what type of service the college thought it was paying for.

Authorities said Kmec also diverted $23,763 worth of checks received by the college as reimbursement for services or royalty payments. In one 2014 example, authorities said, Kmec deposited a $1,980 check from van rentals into his own bank account.

Kmec also embezzled $8,282 by diverting money from the Camel Card program. He deposited more than 80 checks totaling $14,029 from Follet Corporation, a contractor for the college’s bookstore, into his own bank account. Authorities said the checks were supposed to go to students who no longer had Follet accounts and were to be reimbursed.

In 2017, the college presented Kmec with the Inspiration Award, which it said was "presented to an individual who excels at building relationships and motivates others to perform at a higher level." A page on the Conn College website noted the impact he had made on campus. "As director of auxiliary services, he has proven his talent for creative problem solving, and has consistently motivated his colleagues with his positive attitude. Kmec’s team-oriented style has made him one of the most effective leaders on campus," the page said.

As of Wednesday, all references to Kmec's award appeared to have been removed from that webpage.

Kmec is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea on Feb. 12, 2019, at which time he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Cherry.

g.smith@theday.com

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