Former UNC Charlotte employee admits to stealing more than $829, - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Former UNC Charlotte employee admits to stealing more than $829,000

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A Charlotte man is charged with stealing more than $829,000 from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

A bill of information and a plea agreement were filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday. 62-year-old Sam Hanna is charged with one count of federal program theft conspiracy.

Hanna has agreed to plead guilty to federal program theft conspiracy. He faces a maximum five years in prison and $250,000 fine. He has also agreed to pay full restitution, the amount of which will be determined at sentencing.

According to the criminal bill of information, Hanna and two co-conspirators engaged in a scheme involving fraudulent contracts, bribes, and kickbacks, which deprived UNC Charlotte of money.

Hanna was employed by UNC Charlotte in March 2005 as a Facilities Engineer Specialist. He was responsible for soliciting bids and selecting outside contractors. Hanna also had the authority to award contracts less than $30,000 without a bid process.

Court documents show Hanna used his position and authority to award no-bid contracts to two entities owned by his co-conspirators.

Hanna's son-in-law (identified only as Individual A) owned and operated Air Handling Equipment Enterprises, based in Washington D.C.

The second co-conspirator (identified as Individual B) owned and operated Air Motion Systems, based in Greenville, South Carolina.

According to the investigation and plea agreement, from 2006 through 2011, Hanna awarded no-bid contracts to Air Handling and Air Motion and directed $829,807 as payments to the two companies in connection with such no-bid contracts.

Air Handling and Air Motion did little or no work to justify the payments. Hanna issued fraudulent invoices from UNC Charlotte to cover the scheme.

Court documents show both Air Motion and Air Handling maintained company bank accounts which were used to facilitate the scheme.

The co-conspirators would deposit the fraud proceeds in their company bank accounts. Then, at Hanna's direction, individuals A and B directed 4413,170 in bribe payments to Hanna by depositing the money in a bank account owned by "Air Touch Systems". Air Touch was actually Hanna.

Court documents show Hanna used the fraudulent money to pay for personal expenditures, including payments for multiple consumer lines of credit, mortgage payments, and purchases from Dish Network, Anne Taylor, and Verizon.

Wednesday, UNC Charlotte said Hanna was no longer employed by the school as of July 23, 2012.

Officials with the school released the following statement:

UNC Charlotte staff identified potential misappropriation of funds by Sam Hanna, a former employee, through the University's system of internal controls and audits.  The University promptly notified law enforcement agencies including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the FBI, the SBI and the U. S. Attorney's Office.  The University has cooperated fully with law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation of Hanna.

We cannot comment further on the Hanna case because it has not yet been resolved. 

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