USA Education First Look

Harvard officials allegedly stole $110,000 meant for students with disabilities

A duo of former administrators at Harvard are facing charges that they stole the money from an account meant to help students with disabilities and used it to purchase electronics, jewelry, and other personal items.

Visitors are led on a tour on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in 2012.
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Two former Harvard Law School administrators have been accused of stealing thousands of dollars from an account meant to help students with disabilities. 

Meg DeMarco and Darris Saylors, both now resigned from their positions at the Dean of Students office, stole around $110,000 in total, Harvard University police allege in a criminal complaint. The money was allegedly used to buy dozens of laptops, iPads, iPods and other electronics, as well as DVDs, jewelry, and adult merchandise. 

Both now face felony charges: two counts of larceny over $250, according to a spokesperson for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. In addition, Ms. Saylors has been charged with "two counts of false entry into corporate books, uttering a false writing and forgery of a document in connection with an alleged theft."

The theft was first reported by CBS Boston on Monday. 

Kristina Vu, a blind second-year law student at Harvard, described the news as "horrifying." 

"Knowing that someone is out there taking away those crucial resources from the vulnerable student population that needs it to succeed is honestly very appalling to me," Ms. Vu told CBS Boston. "What procedural safeguards were they lacking that allowed something like this to happen?" 

The duo's plan first began to fall apart in November 2013, according to court documents, when a new budget manager at the law school noticed some discrepancies. 

According to police, Ms. DeMarco – who, according to her LinkedIn profile, is a former intern for the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, which is now seeking to prosecute her – had used a mobile card reader to deposit school money directly into her banking account. 

Saylors, who holds a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, reportedly made frequent online purchases on Amazon that included purses, clothing, jewelry, and adult merchandise.  

The criminal charges, filed on Feb. 10 by the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, "stem from an HLS internal financial audit," Michelle Deakin, a spokesperson for the Law School, said in a statement. "The audit resulted in a referral to the Harvard University Police Department in Nov. 2013 by the Law School administration and the former Dean of Students." 

"As a result of this matter, the Law School implemented additional layers of controls governing the use of its credit accounts and purchasing protocols," she added. 

Saylors, who worked as a manager of student programs at the Law School, is now assistant director of the University of Chattanooga Honors College. DeMarco, who was Director of Student Affairs at the Law School from 2008 to 2013, is now associate director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College. 

"It was a big job and I made mistakes," DeMarco told CBS Boston's I-Team. "I never intended to harm the university. I’m very sorry and will do everything in my power to rectify the situation."

The two are scheduled to be arraigned in Cambridge District Court on Wednesday. 

This isn't the first time in recent years that a Harvard employee has allegedly stolen money from the school. In 2015, a computer lab manager was accused of using his Harvard University employee credit card to pay for more than $80,000 in personal purchases. 

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