Dr. Dufus Dorkmeister, a folklore professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was sentenced to 90 years in prison last Friday for abusing his university credit card. Judge Shelly Dick sentenced Dorkmeister to 30 years in prison on each of three counts of fraud, with the sentences to be served consecutively.
"This is one of the most serious cases of fraud and embezzlement I have ever seen," Judge Dick lectured Dorkmeister before pronouncing sentence. "Therefore, in essence, I am sentencing you to life in prison. You will not be eligible for parole until you are 137 years old."
Dorkmeister was accused of three separate acts of fraud. First, while traveling to an academic conference on 19th century Prussian folk life, he used his state credit card to buy an unauthorized donut in the New Orleans airport. According to the district attorney, the donut cost $1.82 (including sales tax).
Dorkmeister testified it was a simple mistake. "My state card," he told the jury, " looks almost exactly like my personal credit care. I just got the cards mixed up and gave the cashier the wrong card."
Second, the District Attorney accused Dorkmeister of fraudulently seeking reimbursement for his parking fee at the New Orleans Airport. State Policy requires all state employees to provide parking attendants with a signed form verifying they are on state business and should not be charged sales tax for parking fees. Dorkmeister's fee was $7.70 cents, which included a 70 cent sales tax.
Again, Dorkmeister argued he was innocent. "I tried to give my official form to the parking attendant,' Dorkmeister testified tearfully, "but she laughed in my face and refused to deduct the 70 cents."
The third criminal charge, which the District Attorney described as the most serious offense, involved a purchase of 25 official University of Louisiana ballpoint pins without verifying that the pens were manufactured by a vendor licensed to reproduce the University's logo. State policy requires professors to submit purchase requests for souvenir items to the Office of Communication and Technology, along with a photo of the vender's trademark license.
Dorkmeister testified at length on this matter. "I bought the ballpoint pens for my freshman students as little prizes for their academic work," Dorkmeister explained. "I did not know I had to get special permission from the Office of Communications and Technology to buy souvenirs bearing the University logo. I assumed the pens were legitimate because I bought them at the student union."
The District Attorney put Dorkmeister under savage cross-examination, forcing the professor to admit that ignorance of the law is no excuse. After deliberating for six minutes, the jury found Dorkmeister guilty on all three counts and recommended the maximum sentence.
After sentencing, Judge Dick denied bail while Dorkmeister appeals. The judge declared him a flight risk and remanded him for immediate deliver to Angola prison, where he will join 16 other professors. All 16 are housed in a maximum-security cell block reserved for rapists, child molesters and credit-card abusers.
|College professors convicted of credit card abuse.|