Roxbury Community College Concerns May Involve Crimes, Auditor Says

Roxbury Community College, as seen in spring of 2016. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Roxbury Community College, as seen in spring of 2016. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Asked by Roxbury Community College last month to audit the operations of the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center and the Roxbury Community College Foundation, Auditor Suzanne Bump announced Thursday she has advised the college that their concerns would be better handled by law enforcement.

The college on Sept. 9 requested that Bump dig into the track center and foundation, a request that came after the college performed its own review of the handling of money at both entities.

"At my direction, earlier this summer we launched an internal review into the management of funds at the Reggie Lewis Center and the Roxbury Community College Foundation," RCC President Valerie Roberson said Thursday in a statement. "The result of our internal review led us to contact the the Massachusetts State Auditor's Office and request an audit of these accounts."

After reviewing documentation provided by the college, Bump advised the school "to seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies to investigate these matters."

"Audit staff have reviewed the documentation RCC provided and concluded that many of the concerns raised by the college go beyond simple mismanagement and involve alleged criminal activity," Bump's office said in a statement that provided no details of the alleged criminal actions.

It is unclear whether a criminal investigation is underway. The college declined to comment beyond Roberson's statement and a statement from RCC Board Chairman Gerald Chertavian, which made a passing reference to "the ongoing law enforcement investigation."

Bump's office confirmed that she is no longer auditing the college.

The latest saga in the college's tumultuous history comes while lawmakers are working to find a legislative solution to a conflict over the future of the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center (RLTAC).

The recent firing of Reggie Lewis Center Director Keith McDermott riled up the state track and field community, which said McDermott's sacking was not in keeping with the center's mission to be a "statewide track facility."

The Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association wrote in a letter to the Boston Herald last month that McDermott's vision of the center as a "statewide track facility" was "most likely" what caused tension between him and the RCC administration.

Roberson, in her statement issued Thursday, said RCC has a "firm commitment" to maintaining the Reggie Lewis Center as a "beacon for the community."

"That effort will be balanced with the RCC's mission to remain a fully accredited institution that is focused on guaranteeing its students are receiving a first-class education," she said.

In a similarly-worded statement last month, the college added, "To remain accredited, we must meet our fiduciary obligations."

Sen. Michael Rush of West Roxbury plans to file legislation to remove the RLTAC from Roxbury Community College's control and give an unspecified state agency oversight of the facility, his office said last month.

The Boston Globe's Adrian Walker last month reported that Rep. Russell Holmes of Mattapan was also working on a legislative solution, one that would hand control of the Reggie Lewis Center to the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Neither Rush nor Holmes responded to requests for comment from the News Service on Thursday.

Bump audited the Reggie Lewis Center at least once before. An audit conducted between 2010 and 2012 but released in 2014 found the center did not have proper control over rental fee collection for non-public events, resulting in "uncollected revenue totaling at least $2,400," did not collect a rental fee from an unnamed university "resulting in thousands of dollars of lost revenue," and "lacked policies and procedures for the collection of admission fees at public events, resulting in thousands of dollars in unaccounted for fees."

The same audit found that the Reggie Lewis Center collected $24,280 in rental fees from public high schools for track meets that "the schools should have been able to hold at the Center at no charge."

A 2013 report prepared at the college's request by former U.S. Attorney Wayne Budd found, among other things, that the Reggie Lewis Center had no documentation for years of cash income from ticket sales.


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