Federal Investigation at UofL – What’s Going On?

Remember that mysterious investigation at the University of Louisville that popped up last week? The one where TV crews flooded UofL’s campus only to report that they didn’t know anything? The investigation that the U.S. Attorney’s office admits is taking place?

Who could forget? Some dudes with guns loading dozens of boxes into black SUVs aren’t easily overlooked. Since UofL isn’t talking and everyone is batshiz nervous, we figured we’d raise some questions about what we’ve heard.

We know the offices that investigators were in were those of College of Education officials. Specifically, the office of Robert Felner, Dean of the school. (view Felner’s massive curriculum vitae here.) Felner, whose last day coincided with the arrival of investigators (conveniently after all of his boxes were packed and he was ready to jet), controls a massive No Child Left Behind grant worth about $12.5 million.

Now for the juicy rumor portion of the story. After the jump.

While this is all rumor, we’ve been speaking with sources within the College of Education, the office of the President and UofL Trustees over the past few days. We consider the information gathered from those sources to be credible.

Page One has learned that in Felner’s four or five years at UofL (CV says 2003, no one will give us a specific start date), no one can recall how his grant money was spent and no one can confirm that funds were appropriated for anything related to education or NCLB. We’ve also learned that about a year ago there was allegedly a vote of ‘no confidence’ on Felner by faculty (still trying to confirm this through records requests) who urged the university to fire him “before things got worse.” We can’t confirm what the vote was specifically for, but at the same time there were complaints of alleged sexual harassment that specifically pointed to Felner. We’re not sure that’s reason enough to bring in the feds. But who knows.

Regardless, the feds were there and they kept a close eye on Felner the entire day. A source inside the office revealed to us that they even accompanied him to the restroom. They cleaned out the Dean’s office and the offices of faculty members who were involved with the grants Felner controlled. Investigators loaded up Felner’s belongings– including computers (which he allegedly got into an argument with the Provost over the week prior, refused the return the them to the university), files, personal effects– and escorted him from the building. (Why didn’t the media report that?!) That doesn’t mean he was taken into custody, but it’s kind of a big deal when the feds accompany the Dean of the school as he leaves on his final day in the employ of a major state university.

There’s more to this story, but we’re not about to report it until we can get more confirmation. And we don’t want to make any potential investigation difficult. So if anyone in the mainstream media wants our lead, give us a yell. Someone needs to dig around Felner’s last school in Rhode Island and around UofL. You know there’s a story in there somewhere that will shake the foundation of higher education in Kentucky.

Felner was in his last day at U of L because he’d accepted a position as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, at a salary of $205,000. His U of L salary,  as listed in the Courier-Journal database, is $255,757. So Felner was leaving the university for a 25 percent pay cut.

So. Dude is all packed up on his final day and the feds show up. How coincidental is that? Millions of dollars in grant money that can’t be accounted for– or it can be accounted for but was allegedly spent on something inappropriate. Rumors of sexual harassment. And officials at UofL literally freak out when we question them about what’s going on. You know there’s some crazy shiz going down.

We’ll bring you more when we have it.

UPDATE: A fancy reader just linked us to THIS STORY from the Kenosha News in the comments.

Turns out Felner alerted his future employer, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, that he (“his college”) is under investigation.