UNCW student charged with embezzlement, a felony


Courtesy of Kaley Lynch's Facebook page

Casey McAnarney and Meredith Hoffman

Edits have been made for accuracy. Dr. Bolton’s title was inaccurately stated the first time and the fact that the funds stolen were entirely raised by student efforts was not included, though it was clearly stated by Dr. Kolomer.

A recent UNC Wilmington graduate was charged with embezzling almost $5,000 after the adviser for a club in which they were an officer of last school year reported university funds being used for personal reasons.

According to an entry on the UNCW police’s crime log, a campus constituent reported a known person, Kaley Bitner Lynch, using university funds for personal reasons. The reporting party was Dr. Kristin Bolton, associate professor in the School of Social Work for the College of Health and Human Services and adviser to the Student Social Work Organization. Lynch was reportedly the Treasurer of the organization during the 2016-2017 school year.

“No state funds were used since it was a student group,” Captain Chris Padgett of the UNCW
Police Department said. “At the end of the year, they were transferring over money and the incoming President or Treasurer said that they still had not received the outgoing officer’s funds from the previous year and she was not getting consistent answers.”

Lynch was charged with embezzlement and will appear in court. Captain Padgett said that, to his knowledge, all of the money was returned or was in the process of being returned. “To be totally honest, I do not know if all of the money was returned…I cannot really remember because at that point, [the organization] had stopped talking to us.”

However, Director of the School of Social Work Dr. Stacey Kolomer said that not none of the funds had been compensated or returned. If it had been, it was not to the student organization. Dr. Kolomer said over email that the organization has not received any funds back nor have they been informed that funds will be returned to the organization. According to the warrant, $4,885.10 was taken.

UNCW Student Government Association President Ottillie Mensah said that students are eligible to request funding from SGA but organizations do not get their set budgets from SGA.

Because this was a student organization, all of these funds were raised and managed by students. No donations to the school itself or other state funds went towards the student organization’s budget. The money lost was that which was made through the efforts of students within this organization.

Lynch will still appear in court, even if all of the money is returned to the student organization. Captain Padgett explained that just because you returned the money does not mean you did not steal it in the first place. If you are entrusted with being the caretaker of funds and you use it for reasons other, you are still stealing the money. “It’s not a bank or loan service.”

As to what legal repercussions Lynch could be facing, Captain Padgett could not say. There are a lot of factors that could go into that: criminal records and aggravating factors like if she paid the money back. But she was charged with a felony, “so it is not a simple answer.”

The students taking over the Student Social Work Organization this upcoming school year were not a part of it last year, “so they had no idea that this had happened” Dr. Kolomer said. “They were actually going to wait until they were on campus so that they could explain [the situation] to them. The school became aware of the situation over the summer.”

Dr. Kolomer said that this is a terribly sad situation; it’s sad for the person who did it and it is sad for “our students and our student group.” This is the first offense for this student organization and is why Dr. Kolomer and others were pretty surprised and taken aback.

Dr. Bolton, the adviser who notified the campus police about this situation, has worked for the university as an associate professor within the School of Social Work since 2013. Dr. Bolton is a well-respected professor and scholar with over a dozen published journal articles relating to her field of study. Her Ph. D. research focused on a range of disciplines from program evaluation to therapy interventions. Dr. Bolton teaches both undergraduate and graduate students research methods, and has developed the campus wide program Research Educators Applied Learning Collaborative [REAL-C]. REAL-C focuses on bringing faculty together from all departments to better the learning experience for UNCW students as a whole.