ADA, Okla. (KFOR) – A former high-ranking university official in Southeast Oklahoma is behind bars for embezzlement after two-and-a-half years on the run. U.S. Marshals arrested the former bursar of East Central University on Nov. 7, accusing him of stealing about $320,000 dollars from the school by manipulating financial transactions in the university’s computer system.

Back in March 2020, Brian Hampton was charged with embezzlement and computer fraud by Pontotoc County, according to court documents. 

“Well, I think there was definitely a sense of betrayal,” said Jeffrey Gibson, ECU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The bursar is someone who is typically entrusted with the money that the university receives, and a lot of trust should be put in that person and that role.”

School officials said Hampton stole the money from the university for several months in 2019 before they brought their suspicions to him in November 2019.

An audit that the university paid for revealed that Hampton brought forth $13,831 in cash and $206,547 in checks after being suspended from his position, but $98,765 was still missing.

East Central University Police said Hampton told them he took the money because he was helping out “a female friend that was in need” and planned to pay the school back.
He would become a fugitive for two-and-a-half years, but on Nov 7. The U.S. Marshals’ Eastern Oklahoma Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force arrested Hampton at a home in Ada.
They told KFOR they did this at the request of campus police, and said Hampton’s mother opened the door and said he didn’t live there, but after further questioning, it was determined he was in there and he was arrested without incident.

Both ECU students and staff expressed shock over the embezzlement charges.

“I think it’s definitely a negative look here on campus that someone we trust to handle all of the financials to ensure that it’s getting paid directly to the campus to ensure that the campus is progressing, that he takes it for his selfish needs,” said senior Alex Garcia.

“There was a lot of anger on the part of our leadership,” Gibson said. “So, we’re really relieved, quite relieved that he has finally been captured and we’re going to support the D.A.’s office as they move forward with prosecution. But just the fact that we were the victims of a crime like this and knowing that he is kind of running free, this has been hanging over our heads for quite a while.”

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Gibson adds that thankfully most of the missing money was recovered through insurance and that they updated their bursar system in 2020.

“We put into place additional checks and balances and oversights for the bursar’s office so that there would be more than one person entrusted in viewing the finances and the movement of the money through the systems,” he said. “We were perhaps a little lax in those checks and balances beforehand which allowed Mr. Hampton to sort of take advantage of the trust that was put in him, and so as a result, we’ve put in some checks and balances so that’s there’s additional oversight to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Pontotoc District Attorney Paul Smith told KFOR he’s glad Hampton has been apprehended and looks forward to presenting in court.