A Central Michigan University psychology professor was charged for allegedly embezzling university funds for personal use.
Justin Dohoon Oh-Lee is said to have created fake research participants to justify funding, which is in the range of $20,000 to $50,000, which amounts to a felony. He was arraigned in the 76th District Court of Isabella County and will be in court Thursday at 8:15 a.m.
A CMU Media release suggests that the research being called into question could have began as early as February 2010.
CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley confirmed police found Oh-Lee had made withdrawals via ATM machines at the Soaring Eagle Casino, along with other out-of-state casinos.
CMU police began its investigation in April upon the complaint from a senior auditor in its financial department of “irregularities” on Oh-Lee’s professional development fund.
The investigation that was brought to the university’s attention was led by Detective Michael Sienkiewicz, Yeagley said.
“We found out that he was taking money illegally from the university and not following protocols while using the money for personal use,” Yeagley said. “Our investigation did not receive answers for motive.”
Oh-Lee began making payments back to CMU to cover the expenses on Jan. 25 with a check for $31,000, followed by one for $4,580 on Feb. 19, and a third check for $3,505 on Feb. 22, Yeagley said.
The police chief said the investigation lasted two months and county prosecutors had been reviewing the case for six weeks.
“Embezzlement investigations can be complex and lengthy,” Yeagley said. “I don’t know how long the university knew about this.”
Steve Smith, director of public relations at CMU said that the university is aware of the accusations and has placed Oh-Lee on paid leave, pending an internal employment investigation.
“CMU continues to work with legal authorities as the case works its way through the court system,” said Smith in an email.
According to Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski, a felony requires a preliminary exam where prosecutors will have to provide enough evidence to warrant the charges.
Mioduszewski said ICSD had no knowledge of the case and that he assumed CMU would be conducting the investigation.
Oh-Lee received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1995 from the University of California, Los Angeles. According to his page on cmich.edu, Oh-Lee’s principal research areas include the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and similar disorders.
Check back with cm-life.com for more as this story develops.
University Editor Kyle Kaminski contributed to this report.