Ten indicted for theft of federal funds at Tuskegee University

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By Gumptown Magazine Staff

Montgomery, AL- The United States Attorney’s Office announced that a grand jury has indicted ten individuals for theft of federal program funding from Tuskegee University. Tuskegee University, located in Macon County, Alabama, receives federal funding in excess of $10,000 per calendar year.

The individuals named in the indictment are: (1) Wanda Tyner Hairston, 51, from Auburn, Alabama; (2) Lora Regina Baker, 52, from Montgomery, Alabama; (3) Keyonn Dalarrion Cannon, 26, from Tuskegee, Alabama; (4) Lanequia Shanice Cooper, 29, also from Auburn; (5) Ledaryl Tremayne Johnson, 27, from Tuskegee, Alabama; (6) Jeanette Moss-Smith, 50, also from Auburn; (7) Cassandra Harris Parker, 61, also from Tuskegee; (8) Phyllis Vanessa Tyner, 57, also from Auburn; (9) Morris Gene Welch, another resident of Auburn; and (10) Abraham Torbert Wright, Jr., 23, also from Tuskegee. All ten are charged with conspiracy to commit federal program theft.

According to the indictment, Cassandra Harris Parker, Lora Regina Baker, Jeanette Moss-Smith, and Wanda Tyner Hairston were Tuskegee University employees during the time frame of the alleged conspiracy, which began at an unknown date and continued to the year 2020. As Purchasing Manager, Parker created purchase orders indicating money was owed to co-conspirators so that checks would be issued to them. Baker worked in the Accounts Payable Department and entered the check requests into the university‚Äôs accounting system, causing the checks to be issued. Moss-Smith signed the check request forms and Hairston assigned grant codes to the forms confirming sufficient funds existed to cover the checks. Once issued, Parker delivered the checks to the co-conspirators. The indictment alleges that Cannon, Cooper, Johnson, Tyner, Welch, and Wright, Jr., each cashed checks provided to them as part of the scheme. The indictment further alleges that the ten named individuals conspired to steal federal program funds through the wrongful issuance of these checks. In addition to the conspiracy charges, Parker, Baker, Moss-Smith, and Hairston are also charged with theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

The conspiracy to commit federal program theft charge carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison. In addition, Parker, Baker, Moss-Smith, and Hairston, face sentences of up to ten years for the charge of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. Trials for each defendant is currently scheduled for August 12, 2024.

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