On Monday, December 19, former NYU finance director Cindy Tappe was charged with stealing over $3.5 million in state funding over a 6-year period.
As per the New York Times, 57-year-old Cindy Tappe allegedly misreported funds from the New York State Education Department and placed them into various shell companies. Prosecutors claimed that while part of the stolen money was used for grants and reimbursements for NYU employees, she also spent a considerable amount on herself.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office stated that the allegations against Cindy Tappe emerged in 2018 after she left her position at NYU. District Attorney Alvin Bragg said that Tappe used the illicit funds for various personal expenses, such as mortgage payments and a swimming pool for her Connecticut home.
Cindy Tappe graduated from NYU Stern Business School
As per her LinkedIn profile, after leaving NYU, Tappe began serving as director of operations at Yale University. Her profile on the Yale University Website states that she graduated from NYU Stern Business School before working for more than two decades in the financial services and education sectors.
According to Reuters, evidence indicates that Tappe first began her scam at NYU around 2012. Tappe's workplace reportedly received a $23 million grant from the NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and Transformation. The grant, as indicated by ABC, was reported to aid English learners and special education students, as well as minority and women-owned businesses.
Prosecutors claimed that after receiving the grant, Tappe faked invoices from supposed contractors, claiming that the money had been used to hire them. Instead, she is said to have sent the money to two shell companies.
In 2018, when she was confronted by NYU administrators about the supposed scam, Tappe claimed that the shell companies were real.
She wrote in an email:
"(I have) developed good working relationships with these companies. (I have) found no other companies that offer the same suite of services for price."
Alvin Bragg, on the other hand, claimed that Tappe had purposefully stolen from vital programs.
“Our multilingual learners and students with disabilities deserve top-notch services, and these funds should have gone directly to their schools."
This sentiment was echoed by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
"Cindy Tappe used her high-ranking position at NYU to divert more than $660,000 in state funds to companies she controlled to fund a lavish lifestyle.”
As per DiNapoli, at least $660000 of the grant money was used by Tappe to pay for renovations in her Connecticut home. Meauww reported that on Monday, she pleaded not guilty to several charges, including grand larceny, money laundering, falsifying company records, and presenting a fraudulent instrument.
The New York Post reported that Yale has not commented on the charges against Tappe, and it is unknown if she still holds her position in the university's administration.