PITTSBURG, Kan. — A federal grand jury in Kansas has indicted a former university professor on charges that he fraudulently obtained more than $148,000 in refunds for Nigerian graduate exchange students and siphoned off a portion of the money for personal gain.

Michael Muoghalu, 61, of Pittsburg, is charged with wire fraud and money laundering in an indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas.

Muoghalu managed a program at Pittsburg State University that recruited Nigerian graduate students interested in obtaining a master's degree in business administration. The students were required to pay a deposit for tuition and fees upon acceptance into the program, which required that they be enrolled in an approved university in Nigeria.

According to the indictment, beginning in 2006, Muoghalu and an unidentified accomplice in Nigeria set in motion a scheme to defraud the university through the program.

Students in the program were entitled to receive partial refunds of their deposits once they were enrolled. Muoghalu is charged with causing the university to issue partial refunds totaling $148,300 to about 15 Nigerian exchange students based on fraudulent paperwork that he obtained through the accomplice and filed with the university.

He then directed the students to pay him a portion of the money for acting as their agent in obtaining the refunds, according to the indictment.

A news release issued by the university states that school officials discovered questionable financial procedures involving Muoghalu in May of this year. The FBI and Internal Revenue Service were contacted and he was placed on administrative leave. Suspension without pay followed on June 8 and Muoghalu resigned in September.

Lehr writes for the Joplin (Mo.) Globe.

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