A retired Virginia Commonwealth University dental professor almost got away with stealing more than $100,000 from the VCU Dental Faculty Practice Association, authorities said.
But James E. Hardigan was undone by a measly 63 cents that was left in an account from which he had taken a large sum of money, according to Richmond prosecutor John Jung.
Hardigan, 69, pleaded guilty Thursday in Richmond Circuit Court to felony embezzlement of $137,553.
No agreement was reached on his punishment. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 9.
Hardigan, who now lives in Florida, became a dental professor at VCU in 1975 and in 1980 was named associate dean for administrative affairs for the VCU Dental Faculty Practice Association, Jung said.
The association was created to allow professors to both teach and have a private practice, Jung said.
In 1995, Hardigan opened an investment account with $500,000 under the association’s name, using money that belonged to the association, Jung said.
In 2004, Hardigan retired from VCU, Jung said. The following year, he moved $137,553 from the account that had been opened in the association’s name into a personal account, Jung said.
But 63 cents of interest apparently accrued in the first account, Jung said.
Later, the investment firm asked the association about the account, and because the association had been unaware that the account existed, officials started looking into the matter, Jung said. That led to an audit, which in turn led to a police investigation.
Hardigan’s attorney, Jeffrey L. Everhart, said his client is prepared to pay back the amount that he was convicted of stealing. Hardigan apparently had kept the money in his account and not spent it, Everhart said.
“The money never went anywhere,” he said.
Jung said it is unclear what happened to the rest of the $500,000 that had been used to open the initial account.