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Former Director of Bands at Southern University Nathan Haymer listens as his attorney, Karl Bernard, speaks on his behalf during a press conference, Friday, August 10, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

Former Southern University band director Nathan Haymer used an unauthorized third party to collect public funds due to the school and then kept about $293,000 in possible violation of state and federal laws, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said in a report issued Monday.

Haymer set up the collection system without approval of the school and used some of the money for personal purposes, according to a summary that accompanied the 45-page review.

The report also says Haymer appears to have submitted false invoices to obtain reimbursement for expenses he did not incur, for which he was paid $46,719 from Southern University, the Southern University System Foundation and the Southern University Alumni Foundation, Purpera said.

In a third area, the review says Haymer received $43,900 in payments from Mardi Gras krewes for Southern University band performances during parades and other events from February 2015 to February 2018.

Because he was an employee of the school, taking the money, on top of his salary, may have violated state law, Purpera said.

The report has been turned over to the offices of state Attorney General Jeff Landry, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III and the U.S. Attorney's office for the federal district that includes Baton Rouge.

Haymer, through his attorney, declined comment on the report and did not provide a written response.

The school has taken steps to avoid future problems, according to a letter signed by Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor for the Southern University System and Domoine Rutledge, chairman of the Southern University Board of Supervisors.

Belton fired Haymer last year after an audit by the school showed that $300,000 in band camp and other fees were in Haymer's personal bank accounts.

That audit stemmed from complaints that Haymer sought kickbacks for the band to appear at an event for schoolchildren.

Haymer also denied that claim.

The band, known as "The Human Jukebox," is a longtime source of pride to the school.

Haymer became its director on Nov. 1, 2014.

Two months later, the audit said, he contracted with a third party – Active Network LLC. of Dallas – to collect band camp fees, band member fees, and dance team audition charges that were previously collected by the Southern University Bursar's Office.

"Mr. Haymer's supervisor at the time of the contract told us he was not aware of this contract or Mr. Haymer's activities with Active until after his employment at SU had ended," according to the review.

The audit said that, from January-August in 2015 Active remitted $84,708 to the Southern University System Foundation, a non-profit group that provides support to the five campuses in the system.

"In August, 2015, at Mr. Haymer's request, Active stopped remitting funds to the foundation and started sending all funds to Mr. Haymer," Purpera's report says.

"From August, 2015 through May, 2018 Active made 35 wire transfers to Mr. Haymer's personal bank accounts," according to the audit. 

"Active also issued four checks that were deposited in Mr. Haymer's personal bank accounts," the review says.

"In total, Active disbursed $293,317 that was deposited into Mr. Haymer's accounts."

Haymer, when asked by state auditors what happened to the money, said he was "the worst record keeper in the world."

After the band director was fired last year he paid the school $34,081.

As of last December a check by State Police of two of Haymer's personal bank accounts showed they totaled less than $1,000.

In another area, state auditors said they concluded that Haymer submitted bogus invoices to the school totaling more than $46,000.

"We determined these invoices were false by meeting with the vendors whose names were on the invoices," the report says. "In each case the vendors told us the invoices were not theirs."

The audit also says Haymer broke with tradition on how Mardi Gras performances by the band were handled.

Rather than the payments going to the Southern University System Foundation, which they had in the past, the money was split between the school and Haymer.

Over a three-year period ending in February 2018 the band performed for at least five parade krewes and Haymer was paid $43,900 personally, according to the audit.

"We recommend Southern University consult with its legal counsel to determine the appropriate action to take, including recovery of the missing funds," Purpera wrote.

"We also recommend that SU management develop and implement up-to-date policies and procedures to ensure that payments collected by SU personnel are accounted for and deposited to an SU account daily in accordance with state law."

In a letter attached to Purpera's report dated July 3, Belton and Rutledge said the relationship between the university and its support organizations "gave rise for the opportunity for Mr. Haymer to misdirect university funds."

The pair said Southern "recognizes that it needs to more closely monitor the activities of those organizations, especially as it relates to funds donated and expended in support of activities such as the marching band and athletics."

Belton and Rutledge told state officials that emailed copies of cash management policies have been sent to those who handle cash transactions.

They have asked that foundation officials provide weekly summaries of accounts for band and athletic teams and taken steps to lessen the need for cash advances by the band.

G. Karl Bernard, a New Orleans attorney who represents Haymer, said in a letter to auditors that Haymer would not provide a written response to the findings to speed resolution of the case.

"Therefore, Mr. Haymer will respectfully refrain from making any comment about the matter referenced above, publicly or otherwise, until the investigative process is complete," Bernard wrote.


Email Will Sentell @wsentell@theadvocate.com.