East Central University
East Central University is a regional university located in Ada, Oklahoma. (Screenshot)

In November 2019, East Central University bursar Brian Hampton walked into the administration building with a computer bag containing more than $150,000 in checks and cash that he admitted to taking illegally from his employer through the manipulation of student accounts and stolen football game receipts.

University police interviewed Hampton, who said he had taken the money to help a female friend in need. But by the time embezzlement and computer fraud charges were filed in March 2020, Hampton — who is also the ex-husband of current Eastern Oklahoma State College President Janet Wansick — had disappeared.

More than two years later, police have not located him, and questions still linger about the situation’s fiscal impact on the Ada-based regional university.

ECU hired the accounting firm Crawford & Associates to conduct a financial audit (embedded below) regarding Hampton’s actions. Completed in February 2020, the report found a total of about $98,765 was still missing from the university, far beyond the approximately $222,878 that Hampton initially returned. That put the amount initially stolen by Hampton at about $320,843.

According to documentation provided by the Regional University System of Oklahoma, ECU had a Fiscal Year 2020-2021 revised budget of just under $41.4 million. That would make the $320,843 taken by Hampton equal to about 0.77 percent of the university’s budget.

East Central University
Former East Central University bursar Brian Hampton is still free after being charged with felony embezzlement and computer fraud in 2020. (Provided)

While an active warrant remains out for Hampton’s arrest, his last listed address is an Ada apartment. Upon last check by officers, only his mother resides there.

“It is just a matter of time. If he gets pulled over for a speeding ticket and they run his name, they will arrest him,” said ECU police officer Glen Jones, who worked on Hampton’s case. “Say if he’s in New Hampshire, for example, if he gets pulled over and they run his name, he’ll have a warrant and they will pick him up and he’ll be extradited back to Oklahoma.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshal Service in the Eastern District of Oklahoma said local law enforcement had not requested federal assistance in apprehending Hampton, although he said the case likely would not meet such a threshold.

“It has to meet certain criteria, and I’m not aware of embezzlement reaching that criteria,” said Deputy Marshall Jeff Johnston. “There’d have to be some federal nexus there. It would have to be millions of dollars, and they would have to be traveling internationally.”

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed with Pontotoc County District Court, Hampton allegedly used his access to East Central University’s computer system to alter financial transactions and steal money between August and November 2019.

A report from the ECU Police Department states that, on Nov. 20, 2019, Hampton went to the ECU campus to meet with Vice President of Administration and Finance Jessica Kilby. At that meeting, he returned $150,000 in checks and cash belonging to the university. The affidavit states that Hampton admitted to taking several thousands of dollars in deposits and sporting event receipts for personal use beginning in August 2019.

During the November conversation — which included Kilby, human resources director Ty Anderson, ECU Chief of Police Bert Miller, officer Glen Jones and Frank Crawford — Hampton said he had taken the money because he had a female friend in need and that he used the cash to help her out. However, Hampton said he had been unable to replace the money.

According to documents, Hampton said that, during the time he was moving money around, he accidentally took deposits that included checks and cash and that about $10,000 in cash had been either stolen or lost because Hampton didn’t know where it was. The report states that Hampton started taking out loans to pay the money back with personal funds.

ECU Office of Institutional Advancement Vice President Amy Ford said in April that, after the issue was investigated by the accounting firm, it was turned over to the Pontotoc County District Attorney’s Office.

DA Paul Smith told NonDoc on Monday that local law enforcement has been unable to find Hampton and that he was planning to contact the U.S. Marshall Service before the end of the day.

“Every couple of months we’ve been tracking it and trying to get updates from law enforcement to see if anybody has had any luck locating him, and thus far nobody has been able to find him,” Smith said. “We are requesting the Marshals to pick it up and locate him as a fugitive.”

Wansick, who became Wilburton-based Eastern Oklahoma State College’s president in June 2020, said she has been divorced from Hampton for 30 years and that she has not been in contact with Hampton since their daughter graduated from high school.

“It’s been over 15 years since I’ve seen him, and I really don’t know any details about the embezzlement or anything that happened there,” Wansick said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable commenting on anything related to that because I just don’t know any details about it.”

Student accounts manipulated, football game money taken

NonDoc obtained the financial audit completed by Crawford & Associates from ECU through an Open Records Request, paying $10.75 for the six-page PDF and a copy of Hampton’s employee photo, which the university said took 30 minutes to prepare.

The report states that the accounting firm reviewed documents provided by the university from their own initial review, conducted interviews and reviewed additional documentation to identify the areas with the highest risk of potential misappropriation. Those include:

  • Payments received by the Bursar Office through the manipulation of posting date of activity;
  • Payments on student accounts being voided or reversed;
  • Composition of daily deposits;
  • Athletic events deposit amounts.

Crawford & Associates was able to identify a remaining misappropriation of funds totaling $89,565.07 related to payments received by the Bursar’s Office and the manipulation of student accounts. They also found an estimated $9,200 of misappropriated athletic event cash, creating a total misappropriation of $98,765.07.

Discussion by ECU staff about the potential manipulation of student accounts led Hampton to provide the university with a personal notepad that included a list of seven accounts labeled “accounts to review.” Crawford & Associates reviewed those student accounts, which showed payment reversals that were then posted to the “Higher One” expense account. Higher One is a higher education financial services company.

The report also states that although approximately $15,690 in home football game tickets were sold during the 2019 season, the university was only able to account for about $6,490 actually being deposited from the ticket sales.

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ECU, NWOSU presidential searches narrowed

The RUSO Board of Regents convene to interview candidates for the vacant East Central University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University president positions over Zoom on Monday, April 18, 2022 at the University of Central Oklahoma. (Joe Tomlinson)

Regents who govern the Regional University System of Oklahoma met on April 14, 15 and 18 to interview candidates over Zoom for the vacant president positions at East Central University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The search has been narrowed to two candidates for the NWOSU presidency and four candidates for the ECU presidency, regent Eric Fisher said following the April 18 meeting.

NWOSU President Janet Cunningham plans to retire June 30, while former ECU President Katricia G. Pierson resigned in December and assumed the presidency of Crowder College in January.

Fisher, who is serving as chairman of the NWOSU presidential search screening committee, said interviews with each of the remaining candidates will take place on campus at each university. Interviews with NWOSU presidential candidates are scheduled for May 12 and 13 in Alva, while interviews with ECU presidential candidates are scheduled for May 17 and 18 in Ada.

“They will make a presentation on what they believe the university needs, and we’ll receive that presentation with sort of an expanded version of what we did today,” Fisher said.

Members of each presidential search committee were appointed by the RUSO Board of Regents. Committees for both the NWOSU and ECU searches include three RUSO regents, two faculty members from each university, three administrators from each university, one student from each university and 10 local community leaders. The names of committee members are published on the RUSO website.

The RUSO Board of Regents governs Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Northeastern State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, East Central University and the University of Central Oklahoma.

ECU financial audit

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Police report on Brian Hampton

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