The president of a Christian university in Florida recently abruptly resigned and admitted to money laundering and wire fraud.
Lu Hardin, who was the president of Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, pleaded guilty last week at a hearing in the federal court in Little Rock, Ark., to forging documents so he could withdraw a $300,000 bonus from the University of Central Arkansas, where he formerly served as president from 2002 to 2008. Hardin served at Palm Beach Atlantic University for only 20 months before resigning on March 4.
Longtime friend Sheffield Nelson told The Associated Press that Hardin withdrew the money to pay a gambling debt.
The educator could face up to 20 years in prison, although that is unlikely since Hardin has no criminal record.
Prior to becoming president of two universities, Hardin had a political history as a Democratic state senator for 14 years and for heading the Arkansas Higher Education Department under then Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Hardin testified in court on March 7 that he took $198,000 from the amount falsified, but paid the money back when questions started to arise about the bonus approval.
The ex-university president’s sentence will be determined in a month or two, according to the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel.