Additional funds may have been misused

Flat Hat Assoc. News Editor Sam Sutton also wrote this report.

Purchases that could not be accounted for made with the Student Assembly off-campus account debit card appear to exceed the April 28 to May 12 window of unauthorized purchases made by former SA Vice President Zach Pilchen ’09.

Pilchen and then-Secretary of Finance Andrew Blasi ’10 have declined to disclose any information regarding these purchases.

According to bank statements, $4.79 was charged at Wawa on Dec. 8 of last year. On Feb. 12, the debit card was used to make an $8.39 purchase at Bloom. The two unaccounted-for purchases total $13.08.
“I have no idea what that is,” SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09, referring to the Dec. 8 purchase, said. “I’ve been trying to figure that out myself.”

Other purchases from that day include $138.14 at Ace Hardware and $101.28 at Home Depot. According to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Pilchen is not believed to have been in possession of the debit card at the time.

Hopkins was unable to conclusively determine the nature of the Feb. 12 Bloom purchase but speculated that it may have been related to Tribe United, the organization founded on campus following the Feb. 12 resignation of former College President Gene Nichol.

The Flat Hat and Hopkins have reviewed expenditures paid from the account paid by check. They were all found to be legitimate.

Following the creation of the debit card, Pilchen was not required to submit receipts or paperwork documenting use of the card. According to SA code, the executive body is allowed up to $750 of discretionary purchases each month.

The lack of oversight concerning the off-campus account may have played a role in allowing Pilchen to misuse the account’s debit card. Pilchen’s purchases were not discovered until shortly before the SA reconvened at the beginning of this academic year, more than three months after his final purchase on May 12.

During Pilchen’s presidency, a presentation detailing the last month’s purchases was compiled and conducted by Blasi and read at the last SA meeting of each month.

“There was never a combative question asked [during the presentations],” SA Sen. Matt Beato ’09 said. “There was never any suspicion.”

According to Hopkins, Blasi’s monthly presentations did not necessarily delve into the details of each expenditure.

Blasi, who declined to comment for this article and would not release his presentations to The Flat Hat, resigned from his SA position last spring to serve as editor-in-chief of The Virginia Informer and was replaced as secretary of finance by Yael Gilboa ’11, who also declined to comment.

The finance committee has frozen the account pending an investigation that is to conclude tomorrow.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here