Former University of Arkansas administrative assistant arrested for fraud, theft totaling over $335,000

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A former University of Arkansas administrative assistant was arrested for theft and fraudulent use of a university credit card.

Kathryn Lake, 44, was arrested in early October after an assistant dean at the university contacted campus police regarding a pair of suspicious charges Lake allegedly made on university cards.

Lake voluntarily terminated her employment at the university on February 28, 2021, and it was upon her resignation that the assistant dean was notified of the charges, which required his authorization. According to an arrest affidavit, these suspicious charges led the dean to further investigate prior purchases made by Lake, dating back to the start of her employment in September, 2018.

In the affidavit, the assistant dean is quoted as reporting that he believed Lake used an additional card, belonging to another university employee, who confirmed that Lake had access to the card. The assistant dean reported that Lake logged these purchases as “computer for lab” or “computer for global teaching needs.”

Lake’s former supervisor, a university department head, states in the filing that Lake had access to a rubber stamp of his signature, but that she was only authorized to use it for academic purposes, and that she was not authorized to purchase computers or technology for the department. The department head confirmed that his signatures for these purchases were either stamped or forged.

A campus police sergeant subpoenaed an electronics retailer for the records of the purchases, as well as Lake’s corresponding rewards account for the store, which reflected purchases made on her own and with a university card.

The affidavit states that the purchases were made in Lake’s name and included her personal email addresses and contact information, as well as her husband’s email address. The technology purchases included multiple gaming computers.

Additional purchases were made on Amazon.com and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Records from Enterprise showed that Lake rented vehicles there using a university purchasing card. She also purchased airfare for a relative who had no relationship to the university.

The campus police sergeant conducted a search of Lake’s social media and found her Facebook account, which showed multiple previous sales of computers and technology consistent with the retail purchases she had made. According to the police report, a search warrant return from Facebook confirmed that Lake had sold hundreds of items over Facebook, including “many computer, technology, or game transactions.”

Lake was also a member of various Facebook groups such as “NWA Marketplace,” “Fayetteville Area Buy and Sell,” “NWA Yard Sales,” “NWA Bargain Hunter,” and “NWA Trendy Yard Salers.”

The dean’s initial investigation uncovered approximately 143 unauthorized purchases, totaling approximately $285,000. Further investigation by campus police identified the total number of unauthorized purchases as 248, with the transactions totally approximately $335,000.

Lake faces charges of Theft of Property and multiple counts of Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card.

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