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Guilty plea for embezzlement from former Drake director of student accounts

Former Drake University director of student accounts, Robert Alex Harlan, 49, pleaded guilty on Sept. 26 to embezzling over $10,000 from the university. The embezzlement is thought to have spanned over a period of at least five years.

Polk County prosecutors decided that the original charges against Harlan, five counts of first-degree theft, would be consolidated into one charge. Harlan pleaded guilty after the prosecutors’ decision.

The Class C offense is punishable by up to 10 years in jail, a minimum fine of $1,000 or a maximum fine of $10,000, although the plea deal does not mean Harlan is guaranteed any of these as a final penalty. His sentencing will be on Nov. 8.

Last spring, Drake officials contacted the police in March after they noticed discrepancies in university account records. Over $600,000 was reported missing. Authorities suspected the embezzlement happened over a span of seven years. Harlan was charged in the theft of more than $470,000. On April 21, Harlan turned himself in to authorities.

Harlan was employed at Drake for over 20 years and was the director of student accounts for the past 10 years.


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