Illinois college dean took over $650k from student group, used money for beach vacations

A former college dean and professor has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for embezzling more than $650,000 from a national student organization working to improve representation of minorities in the pharmaceutical industry.

While serving as the student association's executive director, Carmita Coleman withdrew cash and checks from the group’s bank accounts for her own personal benefit, prosecutors said. She also used the organization's debit cards to make various personal purchases, including trips to the Caribbean.

Coleman, 50, of Frankfort, attempted to cover the scheme up by submitting false and misleading reports to conceal the withdrawals, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors also said Coleman knowingly delayed handing over access to the organization's bank accounts to her successor, so she could continue spending the money for herself.


Coleman pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge of federal wire fraud for the scheme which lasted from 2011 to 2016.

"Coleman’s offense is particularly egregious because she was supposed to be the adult in the room — the faculty member entrusted with overseeing the student organization’s accounts – but instead used the organization’s funds as her own piggy bank," Assistant U.S. Attorney L. Heidi Manschreck said in a statement. "As a result of her scheme, the organization was deprived of funds that were supposed to support its laudable mission, and not to line Coleman’s pockets."

In addition to the prison sentence, a judge ordered Coleman to pay the remaining restitution of $490,528.

Coleman also served as a dean and professor at various pharmacy colleges at the time of the scheme.