An LSU professor accused of forging multiple students’ signatures to collect reimbursement from fake travel vouchers and accused of other instances of fraud, valued altogether at $16,478, was arrested Friday on a total of 98 counts of fraud and misappropriation of funds.
Todd Finley Shupe, 45, of Baton Rouge, who teaches graduate-level courses on treated wood recycling and advanced wood science, works in the Louisiana Forest Products Development Center at the LSU AgCenter, where he directs the LSU Wood Durability Lab.
LSU received a complaint regarding Shupe on Oct. 21. A lengthy investigation revealed Shupe had been reimbursing himself for more than $2,500 worth of travel expenses that did not exist, forging a student’s signature to make it appear the expenses were reimbursement for the LSU student’s driving, the LSU police report says.
LSU police discovered Shupe collected another $7,889 by forging a second student’s signature on 22 travel vouchers and forged the signature of a post-doctoral researcher from China on two occasions to reimburse himself on two false vouchers, valued at $492. He did a similar forgery of a former LSU research associate in December and reimbursed himself for more than $750, the report says.
The investigation further revealed he illegally reimbursed himself with LSU AgCenter funds for travel expenses he incurred while doing business for his private company, Wood Science Consulting, collecting more than $2,800, the police report says.
During the course of the investigation, police discovered Shupe was paying for his wife’s phone using LSU AgCenter funds, which she told police she had not known, the report says.
These payments go as far back as 2011, when more than $800 of AgCenter funds went toward paying for the mobile account.
In addition, Shupe is accused of donating $5,000 worth of wood to construct furniture for a local church, wood he said he was ordering for use in research, the report shows in several documented emails.
LSU police arrested Shupe, who was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on 40 counts of second-degree injuring public records; 36 counts of forgery; eight counts of theft; eight counts of malfeasance in office; three counts of payroll fraud; two counts of abuse of office; and one count of unauthorized use of a moveable.
Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, released a statement on the arrest Friday evening.
“We are aware of the allegations involving Dr. Todd Shupe, professor working with forest products development,” Richardson said.
“Once we discovered the transactions of concern, we self-reported to authorities, and we cooperated fully and assisted with the investigation. Fraud and misappropriation of funds are serious offenses, and we will conduct a thorough review of our processes to ensure this won’t happen again.”
Follow Danielle Maddox Kinchen on Twitter, @Dani_Maddox4.