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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Former ASA director gets 1 year in prison for theft

    Maceo Brown, the former executive director of the Arizona Students’ Association, was sentenced yesterday to one year in prison and ordered to repay nearly $80,000 in student money he was found guilty of embezzling.

    Brown was sentenced on two felony counts of theft and forgery and will repay $34,536.05 to ASA and $45,390.83 to American Express, Bill Fitzgerald, public information officer for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said in an e-mail.

    Ryan Anderson, an attorney for ASA who attended the sentencing yesterday, said while the case has been ongoing since late January, the sentencing took about an hour.

    While Brown agreed to plea for a 16-month sentence, Anderson said, Judge James Keppel decided to sentence Brown to a year in following a presentation made by Brown’s lawyer and family on his behalf.

    “”It was an emotional day today,”” Anderson said. “”But we believe it was a fair and just sentence.””

    “”He is a good person who did a bad thing. He stole a lot of student money, and you just can’t get away with that.””

    – Ryan Anderson,
    attorney for ASA

    Brown was unable to receive a work furlow grant from the judge, a program which would have allowed him to work during the day and return to prison at night, Anderson said.

    Instead, Brown will serve a year in prison for theft and five years probation for forgery, Anderson said.

    Barry Mitchell, Brown’s attorney, did not return phone calls to comment.

    Serena Unrein, who has served as the acting executive director for ASA since discovery of the theft in January, said the sentencing comes as a relief, as attention can now be directed to serving students again.

    “”The important thing is that student funds will be recovered,”” Unrein said. “”And we are happy to focus our attention back toward our students.””

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said ASUA is pleased that more of a consequence than recovery and fines was imposed upon Brown for his actions.

    “”Students were the victims of this crime,”” Hertzog said.

    As a result, Unrein and Hertzog said that ASA has implemented a number of changes in the internal structure.

    ASA will have a finance committee review bank statements on a monthly basis and perform internal audits twice a year, Unrein said.

    ASA staff will also present regular financial statements at board meetings, and a student board member, rather than the executive director, will chair every ASA meeting.

    Unrein said financial duties will be split among board members and staff to ensure that no one has complete control of ASA’s finances, and an independent commission will perform financial audits every year.

    Additionally, mandatory annual board training in areas concerning fiscal oversight, financial management and fraud detection will ensure that all members of ASA are properly trained, Hertzog said.

    ASA will be posting applications and holding interviews to permanently replace Brown within the next week, Hertzog said.

    “”He is a good person who did a bad thing,”” Anderson said of Brown. “”He stole a lot of student money, and you just can’t get away with that.””

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