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Embezzlement Plea

The now-former employee of a nonprofit associated with the University of South Florida has pleaded guilty to embezzling at least $12.8 million, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

It adds that Ralph Puglisi, who was the accounting manager for the University Medical Service Association, which provides staffing and support for the university's medical system, admitted in court records to defrauding UMSA. The Washington Post adds that Puglisi's bosses noticed the increased expenses and hired a law firm and a forensic auditing firm to track them down. It also reports that federal authorities further found that Puglisi made numerous unauthorized purchases, many of which were filtered through an adult website, and alleged that Puglisi used the funds to renovate his house, buy land in the US Virgin Islands, and cover family members' expenses.

The Tampa Bay Times adds that Puglisi faces up to 20 years in prison and has agreed to pay back the $12.8 million. "Mr. Puglisi has been cooperative throughout the investigation and has taken steps toward paying restitution to the University of South Florida," his attorney Anthony Rickman says in statement according to the paper.

It also notes that the law firm that investigated the situation for the university found that UMSA's protections against fraud were weak.