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'Coffee Fund' Case Comes To An End

The Northern Illinois University “coffee fund” investigation has come to an end with a plea agreement this week with the last of nine original defendants.

Kenneth Pugh, 57, director of NIU’s Materials Management department, was one of three supervisors who pled guilty to a misdemeanor for their roles in the case.

Charges against six of the nine NIU employees charged with felonies were dismissed. Seven of the defendants have returned to work at NIU and one more is expected to return soon. One retired before charges were filed

NIU police found that employees were selling leftover materials from campus building projects, depositing the proceeds in an unauthorized bank account, and using the money as a fund for holiday parties and other functions.

NIU officials said that the account at Castle Bank accumulated at least $13,000 since 2005 and held $2,187 when it closed last August.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack said the money was improperly diverted to the coffee fund but was maintained by state employees and used for government functions, not personal gain.

Pugh was sentenced to court supervision for a year and was ordered to pay a fine and court cost of $825. Charges of theft and official misconduct were dismissed. Pugh has been on paid leave by NIU for nearly 10 months.

The two others who faced similar charges were Laurence Murray, manger of the Property Control Department, and Robert Albanese, a former associate vice present.

Murray was put on paid leave last August and returned to work June 1. He was sentenced to 16 months of court supervision. Albanese resigned from the university July 31 after he signed a separation agreement that said he faced unrelated allegations of misconduct. Albanese was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision.

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