College says federal government must return stolen money?

By The West Virginia Record | Dec 11, 2014

Going to college and getting a degree is supposed to increase your earning potential, assuming you major in something with real-world applications rather than some far out fade-filled curriculum fashioned by second-rate minds.

Even with a major in something useful, however, it may take years to realize the economic benefits, especially with student loans to repay.

Only the most enterprising students acquire wealth during college, and many lose interest in academia and exit degree-less.

Of the ones who stick it out for four years or more, many can say that they (or their parents) were tens of thousands of dollars poorer when they left than when they first set foot on campus, but how many can say the opposite? How many can say they were wealthier on departure than they were on arrival?

Shelly Lough can. She was at Bethany College from 2007 to 2013 and amassed a million-dollar fortune during her last two years there.

Unfortunately, she was an employee, not a student. How many college workers – teachers, staff, administrators, custodians – can accumulate that much money in six years?

It helped that Lough was a cashier, manning the petty cash window in the college's business office. She embezzled more than a million dollars over a two-year period.

She didn't do it to enrich herself. She did it to meet the demands of blackmailers.

Once discovered, Lough pled guilty to the charges against her, and her blackmailers pled guilty to theirs as well. In the meantime, however, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration had executed a search warrant at one of the blackmailers' residences, seized the extortion money (apparently on the pretense that it was illicit drug revenue), and subjected it to administrative forfeiture.

Bethany College wants its money back and has filed suit to have the forfeiture set aside.

Surely, the DEA could acknowledge its error and return the money without making a federal case of it.

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