By Mary Huber
A former facilities director at the University of Texas School of Law was indicted this week by a Travis County grand jury on charges of theft, money laundering and abuse of official capacity.
Jason Shoumaker who worked for the university for 10 years, was fired last year after a co-worker made a complaint about his spending, which prompted an internal investigation that was later referred to the Travis County district attorney’s office.
Shoumaker was arrested in May on six counts of tampering with government records after authorities said he had been reporting for work and collecting pay while he was in Las Vegas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cozumel and other places, according to arrest affidavits filed against him. He also was accused of using fraudulent time sheets to try to get a larger employment separation payout after he was fired, the documents say. Shoumaker has not been indicted on those charges.
The indictments handed down Wednesday say he unlawfully took money from UT without its consent through criminal activity. Court documents do not specify how much he is accused of taking, but say the amount was $300,000 or more, the minimum required to be charged with a first-degree felony.
The documents say the theft began about Jan. 10, 2013, and continued until Aug. 23, 2017. They allege that Shoumaker had used procurement cards, contracts, invoices and money that he got through his employment at UT to make fraudulent payments to himself and several companies, including Northpoint Commercial, TC Consulting, A&G Electric, Peal & Associates, Assertive Business Solutions, Tommy’s Garage and Central Transportation Services.
Shoumaker was arrested Wednesday and released shortly after posting bond, jail records show. If convicted, he faces between 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for each charge.
“There is not a whole lot to say at this juncture,” his attorney, Perry Minton, said Thursday. “The stuff he was charged with a number of months ago and what he was indicted on yesterday are all matters we have not seen a single thing on. It is a very technical forensic accounting deal that has taken them months to put together. It’s going to take that long for us to do the same. If he has done something that has cost the university money, he is going to be responsible for it and pay it back, but we are going to have our own forensic investigators before we talk about anything.”
According to the arrest affidavits filed against Shoumaker in May, several co-workers told authorities they started noticing in 2016 that he wasn’t showing up to work and “didn’t seem to be doing his job anymore.”
One colleague said she often covered for him and would send him text messages from time to time to see where he was, the court documents say. She said one week he had texted that he was on his way to work, but investigators found that he was in Las Vegas at the time and that his personal credit card had been used for taxi rides, professional massages and lunch at Hooters, according to the affidavits.
He also had charged meals, alcohol and rental cars in Florida, California and in Port Aransas during times he said he was working, the affidavits say. He had no state business in those locations at the time, the court documents say.
Shoumaker had not been submitting electronic time sheets to the university and had been told to report all vacation time directly to human resources because of poor work performance, the affidavits say. After he was fired, the human resources director asked him to submit electronic time sheets, which were found to be fraudulent, the documents say.
UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the university has already taken steps to improve its spending control and procedures, including tightening signature requirements by project managers and allocating more resources to monitor its procurement card program, which allows faculty and staff members to charge expenditures related to their jobs.
The university also hired legal counsel after learning of the allegations against Shoumaker to conduct an internal review of his entire work history at UT and all other issues related to the case. That review is still ongoing, the university said.
“The University of Texas takes its responsibility as a steward of public dollars extremely seriously and will continue to work closely with the district attorney as the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Shoumaker moves forward,” Susswein said.