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Published: Friday, 12/22/2006

Ex-BGSU employee is indicted in theft

BOWLING GREEN - The former manager of the Northwest Ohio Regional Book Depository was indicted yesterday on two felonies stemming from accusations that he stole more than $400,000 in electronics and computer equipment from Bowling Green State University.

Michael L. McHugh, 43, of Bowling Green, was indicted by a Wood County grand jury for theft in office and telecommunications fraud. He has been held in the Wood County jail since his arrest by BGSU police Dec. 1.

Mr. McHugh was fired Nov. 2 by BGSU, which operates the book depository at Levis Park in Perrysburg, after the university received a tip from an employee about purchases Mr. McHugh made for the depository and began investigating

According to court records, Mr. McHugh purchased equipment using university purchase orders and credit cards, and then sold the items on the Internet auction site eBay for personal profit or kept the equipment for his personal use.

In an affidavit filed in Bowling Green Municipal Court, BGSU police said Mr. McHugh told investigators that he had been making such purchases as far back as 2000 or 2001.

BGSU's director of internal audit and advisory services determined that "at least $404,000 can be directly attributed to fraudulent purchases," according to the affidavit.

BGSU Spokesman Teri Sharp said yesterday that "in hindsight, we probably could have done a better job" of monitoring Mr. McHugh's purchases.

"By its very nature, embezzlement is secretive, and even with the best system of checks and balances in place, large organizations can find themselves vulnerable to people who want to do wrong," she said.

Mr. McHugh was the first and only manager of the depository, which houses rarely used books and other materials for BGSU and the University of Toledo libraries.

He is to be arraigned Jan. 4 before Common Pleas Court Judge Reeve Kelsey.

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