Former Chief of SUNY's Entrepreneurship Institute Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charge

May 01, 2007

The former executive director of a publicly financed nonprofit institute founded by the State University of New York admitted on Monday to having committed fraud, including using his corporate credit card to pay for a trip to Disney World, bringing his father along on two business trips to China, and arranging for a $95,000 pay raise to which he was not entitled, according to the Times Union of Albany, N.Y.

The official, J. Felix Strevell, led the Institute for Entrepreneurship — through which SUNY has sought public grants and private donations to expand academic research and development that could help small businesses — from 1999 until he quit, in July 2001. He pleaded guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court in Albany to one count of mail fraud, and agreed, as part of a 20-page plea, to pay the state $111,000 in restitution, according to the newspaper. He could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced, in August.

After Mr. Strevell resigned, the controversy surrounding him and how the institute’s funds were being used became an embarrassing issue for some Republican leaders in the state, including the governor at the time, George E. Pataki, who had supported the institute’s creation, according to the Times Union. —Sara Hebel