By Sabina Mollot
A former Baruch College basketball coach has pleaded guilty to embezzling $700,000 from the school, money that he got and then pocketed from renting athletic facilities on the campus to outside parties.
Machli Joseph, 43, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday afternoon and could face up to ten years behind bars. New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said the former City University of New York (CUNY) coach conducted his scheme over a six-year period.
“This college official squandered and abused the trust placed in him by executing a multi-year scheme using school resources to benefit himself with close to three-quarters of a million dollars in stolen public funds,” Inspector General Leahy Scott said. “His crimes went unchecked for years on end and were symptomatic of the lax policies and oversight throughout CUNY facilities that I have been investigating as a separate matter.”
Joseph worked at Baruch College between 2002 and 2016. He served as Baruch’s women’s basketball head coach between 2004 and 2014, its men’s basketball coach in 2002, as assistant athletic director from 2003 to 2011 and as associate athletic director from 2011 until August 2016. In his role as an administrative official, Joseph had sole control over rentals of the gym.
However, when it came to payment for the events, from 2010-2016, Joseph instructed renters to make payments to entities that, in some cases sounded like Baruch College affiliates, but weren’t. Additionally, on several occasions, he would just tell renters to pay him directly or his associates. Much of the cash that should have gone to Baruch wound up getting spent on Joseph and his family, including on renovations to his home.
His sentencing is scheduled for April 17. His attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, future event bookings at Baruch will face much closer scrutiny.
In a written statement, Dr. Mitchel B. Wallerstein, president of Baruch College, said, “Since the discovery of the fraud committed by Mr. Joseph, Baruch College has strengthened financial oversight of the athletics department by making administrative and staffing changes; putting in place security protocols that ensure that Baruch facilities are being properly used and rented; and adjusting the manner in which revenues are collected by the college controller who is charged with monitoring the funds. We hold our employees to the highest ethical standards, and we condemn Mr. Joseph’s corruption — stealing funds that were so desperately needed by Baruch College, a public institution of higher education, to support our students.”