08/25/2011 10:18AM

University of Louisville director fired after embezzlement allegation

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The senior program director at the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program in Kentucky has been fired after being accused by the university of embezzling more than $450,000 from the program, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The accused, Alisha Ward, 42, whose salary was $42,000, wrote checks to herself from program funds and fraudulently used a credit card issued to the program’s director, Richard Wilcke, to pay for improvements to her home and to buy personal items, including a motorcycle and lingerie, the university alleged in an audit released on Wednesday, the Courier-Journal said.

Wilcke resigned on June 1 as director of the program, the Courier-Journal said, but remains on the faculty. The audit said that Ward’s activity should have been detected sooner by officials in the College of Business, which oversees the Equine Industry Program.

No criminal charges have been filed, but the university has forwarded its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisville, according to the Courier-Journal.

Along with the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program, the Equine Industry Program is one of two specialized college programs in the United States that prepares students for careers in the equine industry. The Louisville program has a budget of $1 million, half of that provided by a tax on Kentucky racetracks.