Professor Gary White of the business department was recently suspended from Eastern University.
The suspension came after White pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud occurring from January 2001 to July 2005, according to a faculty email sent by President David Black.
A federal prosecutor brought the charges after one of White’s insurance companies noticed he was being reimbursed twice for some prescription medications.
Court documents claim that White intentionally deceived two insurance companies by creating false pharmacy receipts and through them, fraudulently obtaining a total of $77,300.
The false receipts and the form filled out to obtain reimbursement from the second company are legally considered fraudulent documents. Mailing these documents to the insurance companies constitutes mail fraud, the official charge leveled against White.
According to White, he had been paying for multiple insurance policies for several years in order to cover medical treatment for himself, his wife and one of their children.
White said that under advice from a family attorney, he mailed receipts for prescription medications to both of his insurance companies and was reimbursed by both.
“I nor my wife knew that it was not legal to report a claim to more than one insurer, even if you are paying for that insurance coverage,” he said.
About a year ago, one of the insurers notified White that mailing receipts to both companies was illegal.
“Immediately we pledged to cooperate and repay any claims that may have been processed erroneously,” White said in an email interview.
White pleaded guilty to the charges of mail fraud for two reasons; first, he had already agreed to rectify the situation.
“I considered it improper and immoral to plead innocent to something that I already accepted responsibility for,” he said.
The other reason was financial. White said he would have to repay the money received fraudulently either way he pleaded. If he pleaded innocent, he would also have to pay court fees.
Some of Eastern’s faculty have been standing by White. In an email to faculty and staff, President Black referred to White as “a long cherished colleague.” When asked about White, Julie Elliot, director of INST150 and Christian ethics professor, called him kind and humble.
“He has lots of traits that we look for in people,” she said.
Dr. Jack Bower, head of the business department, spoke of White as righteous and upstanding.
“Gary’s never even gotten a parking ticket,” Bower said. “He’s that kind of a person, and so for this to happen is, is unbelievable.”
Although there is support for White on campus, he is still being suspended. According to Black’s email, the decision was “…based on his covenantal obligation to observe the University’s community standards and model the same for students.”
Professor White’s fall classes will be taken over by several professors.
According to Elliot, career advisor Jackie Irving will teach his INST150 section. Bower has reported that White’s consumer behavior class will be taught by Professor Walter Hook, his special topics class by Dr. Al Socci, and his marketing class by Professor Tod Gilmore. Gilmore is a new addition to Eastern faculty.
According to Bower, White has been suffering from poor health for at least a year and needs time off to recuperate.
“I think it’s just God’s hand working this out for him,” Bower said.