Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Brian Carroll (46, Tennessee) has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, Carroll was the Executive Vice President of Southeastern University, a university based in Lakeland, Florida. His responsibilities as Executive Vice President of Southeastern University included being the chief operating officer of the university, with responsibility for strategy, financial operations, and legal affairs.
Carroll was involved in a scheme to enrich himself and to defraud the university of funds in 2016. The scheme involved Carroll’s creation of a New Mexico corporation, which he secretly controlled, and the establishment of a bank account in the name of that corporation. He also created an email address for the company, which he used to further the scheme.
Around mid-2016, the leadership of Southeastern University was interested in rebranding the university and its web image. Carroll worked on the project and secretly “engaged” his New Mexico corporation to perform that project work. Over a six-month period, Carroll’s corporation generated a contract to do the work and a number of invoices for payment by Southeastern University for work purportedly performed. The total payment to the New Mexico corporation, for which Carroll sought and received payment from the university, was in excess of $180,000. Carroll kept his involvement with the New Mexico corporation a secret from any members of Southeastern University. In reality, Carroll’s New Mexico corporation did none of the work on this project. Instead, it had engaged a New York-based corporation to do the work on the project at the reduced cost of approximately $30,000.
During the course of the fraud scheme, Carroll, in his position at Southeastern University, approved a number of payments from university funds to his New Mexico corporation for its purported work on the project. Only after Southeastern University had spent over $180,000 on the project did it discover the involvement of Carroll in the New Mexico corporation and the real cost of the project. The Board of Directors suspended Carroll immediately and ultimately terminated his employment at the university soon thereafter in early 2017.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Lakeland Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.