Testing Center internal theft loss: $90,000

By Jonathan Wroble

At the University Testing Center, 610 E. John St., a discrepancy in the reported number of tests taken and the actual number of tests taken has lead to a loss of $90,000 over three years.

“(A former employee) at the Testing Center had not fully reported the number of tests given,” said Robin Kaler, University spokeswoman. “The lower number of tests taken … (meant) a lower amount of revenue.”

Typically, employees of the Testing Center administer exams like the ACT that come from third parties, mainly the Educational Testing Service. The University then receives one lump check based on the number of tests administered over a certain period of time, Kaler said.

Recently, after the University hired a new Testing Center supervisor, the center underwent inspection by the state auditor general, William G. Holland. On March 8, Holland released a report detailing “internal control weaknesses” at the center that allowed theft to go undetected for three years.

“(In the past), the center had one person who was inputting the data and checking the data,” Kaler said. “There was no direct checking of any of the employees.”

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This was the environment in which Anjanette Jones, former Testing Center employee, was supposedly able to administer a certain number of tests and report a lower amount to the University. On March 2, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz charged Jones with felony theft in relation to the $90,000 taken from the Testing Center.

The missing money was not the only sign of fraud at the Testing Center. During the three year period, which started September 2002 and ended September 2005, there was a corresponding drop in the number of tests taken – a statistic that normally tends to grow over time, Kaler said.

“Why would so many fewer people be taking tests?” she said. “That certainly gives you cause to look further and confirm why these data were the way they were.”

As a result of the theft, the Testing Center has implemented a new procedure of review. This change directly addresses the center’s lack of controls cited in Holland’s audit report.

“There’s a different process now,” Kaler said. “(The Testing Center) recognizes there was a problem and has implemented a sound business practice to solve it.”

Despite the inconsistency in reported tests for three years, students who took tests through the Testing Center have no reason to worry.

“Any tests taken by students during this period are completely valid and recognized by (the Educational Testing Service),” Kaler said.

She explained further that the University “will pursue every legal means of being reimbursed for the missing funds,” a process that started exactly two weeks ago.

On March 21, Jones appeared in an Urbana courtroom in front of Judge John Kennedy. She was arraigned on a felony charge of property theft and formally accused of deception by taking honorariums, or illegal payments for services rendered, throughout the aforementioned three year period.

Jones, if convicted, could face a prison sentence of up to seven years.