‘I’m innocent’: NC Central employee charged with embezzling nearly $1 million from university

State - Regional

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — An employee at North Carolina Central University in Durham is charged with embezzling close to $1 million from the school, according to an arrest warrant obtained by CBS 17.

Kenya Ward, 44, of Durham, is facing one count of felony embezzlement of state property.

According to the warrant, Ward embezzled a total of $900,284.59 from N.C. Central’s bookstore and food services department over a period of three years, from Jan. 9, 2018, until April 30 of this year.

Ward was employed by the university as a business and technology application analyst and Eagle Card office manager, the warrant shows.

Ward was arrested just after 12:30 p.m. on Thursday by Durham police.

She went before a magistrate at Durham County Jail and was given a $1 million unsecured bond, court records show.

Ward has since bonded out and she appeared in court Friday morning.

CBS 17’s Crystal Price was there for Ward’s court appearance and briefly spoke to her after:

Price: “Is there anything you want to say?” 

Ward: “I’m innocent.” 

Price: “Do you plan to plead not guilty?” 

Ward: “Not guilty.” 

Price: “So you didn’t do this?” 

Ward: “No.” 

Price: “Do you know why they’re saying you did?” 

Ward: “No.” 

No further information has been released at this time.

No one with North Carolina Central University would talk on camera on Friday, but in a statement, they said in part that “an investigation was recently conducted in response to an internal inquiry regarding misappropriation of funds in the unit of Auxiliary Enterprises.”

University officials said that the conclusion of the review resulted in the removal of personnel and the realignment of processes.

While officials said they think they have addressed the issue in its entirety, the university engaged an external firm to conduct a more extensive review and recommend additional security measures, procedural changes, or policy enhancements as warranted.

The state auditor’s office has done recent audits on North Carolina Central University, but CBS 17 didn’t find where any of the audits included anything about embezzlement or misappropriation of funds.

CBS 17 asked the state auditor’s office about this, but they said they had no comment.

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