A former Vanderbilt employee and his partner pleaded guilty to stealing at least $530,000 from Vanderbilt University as well as to aggravated statutory rape charges.
Less than a month before their scheduled trial date, Jason Hunt and Samuel “Cole” Wakefield entered guilty pleas on numerous criminal count following a 60-count indictment handed down earlier this year including various charges of theft, credit card fraud, forgery, aggravated statutory rape.
Hunt, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of more than $60k, one count of fraudulent use of a credit card, nine counts of forgery, and six counts of aggravated statutory rape. The plea arrangement gives him an effective sentence of 22 years to serve in prison, with a possibility of parole after serving 30 percent of his total sentence.
Wakefield, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of theft and five counts of aggravated statutory rape for an effective sentence of 10 years with the possibility of parole after serving 30 percent.
Both men will be placed on the sex offender registry.
According to the plea agreements, the university began investigating Hunt, an administrative services manager at the law school, a year ago after receiving a tip that he had used school funds for personal purchases.
As part of his job with the school, Hunt had control over finance-related tasks such as initiating expense transactions for law school students, professors, organizations and centers. He could not only authorize checks issued on behalf of the university, but also use a procurement card, essentially a Vanderbilt-issued credit card.
The district attorney’s office investigation determined that between April 2010 and October 2011 Hunt used the university procurement card for unauthorized personal purchases benefiting himself, Wakefield and friends, totaling at least $291,873.
Investigators also determined that Hunt issued a total amount of $244,089 in fraudulent university checks, many of which were issued based on forged check approval requests as well as forged e-mail correspondence used to pass the requests off as legit.
The total amount of theft from Vanderbilt was at least $535,962.
Also according to the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, investigators determined some of the forged checks written by Hunt were cashed by two 17-year-old males, with whom both Hunt and Wakefield had sexual relations.