ORU money funneled, suit claims
BY APRIL MARCISZEWSKI World Staff Writer
Friday, February 08, 2008
2/12/08 at 4:10 PM
Documents: Read the revised former ORU accountant Trent Huddleston's lawsuit.
For more: View PDFs of ORU’s revised
articles of incorporation and
bylaws, and catch up on
previous articles and
More than $1
billion annually was
ORU, a former
A former Oral Roberts
University accountant revised his lawsuit Thursday
to allege that more than $1
billion annually was funneled through the university, possibly to regents.
"It appears that many of
the former board members
were actual participants in
the funneling of money
through the university for
their own eventual personal
use, and thus, the foxes
were watching the hen
house," says former accountant Trent Huddleston's lawsuit.
The money "was not used
for any legitimate purpose"
that Huddleston knew, his
"I have no answers about
where this money came
from, nor where it went,"
said Huddleston's attorney,
ORU spokesman Jeremy
Burton said, "The allegations of inappropriately funneling money through accounts as alleged by the
plaintiff have no basis in
Richardson said Huddleston saw the account when he
worked at ORU, between July 2006 and October 2007. In
the lawsuit, Huddleston
claims he was wrongfully
fired because ORU, Oral
Roberts Ministries and their
leaders feared he would talk
about the alleged " 'unrestricted' account" and because he regularly questioned expenses.
In 2005-06, ORU's expenses were $83.89 million and
revenue was $79.7 million,
according to its Internal Revenue Service filing. That
same year, the Oral Roberts
Evangelistic Association had
expenses of $14.3 million
and revenue of $12.78 million, according to its filing.
Richardson said he received confirmation about
the alleged unrestricted account from a person who
should know. He declined to
identify the person. Until he
received confirmation, he
agreed that funneling of $1
billion seemed implausible.
"Based on the confirmation, I'm very confident,"
Richardson said. "As confident as one can be without
seeing it for oneself."
Richardson had not seen
any documentation of the alleged account or flow of money, he said, and he "cannot disclose" whether the information came from an audit of
ORU's former board of regents hired a Washington,
D.C., law firm in October to
oversee an audit of ORU's finances and more, after more
of Richardson's clients sued
ORU. They alleged that then-ORU President Richard Roberts and his family had misspent ORU and Oral Roberts
Ministries money. Roberts
said he paid for his family's expenses, and denied wrongdoing.
ORU has not made the audit
public, and former board of regents Chairman George Pearsons previously said the board
received the report verbally.
Roberts resigned about two
months after the first lawsuit
was filed by three former professors, who claimed they
wrongfully lost their jobs. The
board of regents was replaced
by trustees this month, based
on requirements from the
Green family, which donated
$70 million to ORU.
The board of trustees issued a written statement
Thursday, saying it "is committed to resolving outstanding litigation against the university brought under the
The new version of Huddleston's lawsuit adds as defendants all 23 of ORU's former business regents, a
former associate regent, Oral
Roberts Evangelistic Association and the directors of the
association/Oral Roberts Ministries. He also is suing ORU,
Oral Roberts Ministries, Roberts and his wife, Lindsay Roberts. His lawsuit alleges he
was ordered to "cook the
books" and "falsely list thousands of dollars as expenses
rather than assets."
April Marciszewski 581-8475