The Office of the Inspector General's Westfield State University Investigation Team was recognized at a special event at the State House on September 24, 2015. The Team received this year’s Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service. The Carballo Governor’s Award is given annually to employees or groups of employees for providing exceptional service to the public. It is the highest award in the Commonwealth’s Performance Recognition Program, which honors the contributions of public workers in delivering quality services to the citizens of Massachusetts. The recipients of the Carballo Governor’s Award are chosen by a selection committee comprised of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate and community leaders.
The Office investigated the spending practices of the then-president of Westfield State University (WSU), Evan S. Dobelle, and uncovered tens of thousands of dollars of personal spending on WSU credit cards, lavish travel and other abuses of public funds. As a result of the Office’s investigation, the Attorney General’s Office filed a civil suit against Dobelle pursuant to the Massachusetts False Claims Act, M.G.L. c. 12, §§ 5B-50, seeking damages, civil penalties, costs and attorneys’ fees.
In May 2015, Dobelle agreed to a consent judgment to settle the lawsuit. The judgment required Dobelle to pay triple damages and fees totaling $185,000. The judgment also prohibits Dobelle from ever again working for a public college or university in Massachusetts.