*Authorities in Florida looking into the unexplained death of a drum major at Florida A&M University said Wednesday the investigation has uncovered possible fraud at the school reports CNN.
During the “scores of interviews” that have been conducted, “there was evidence gleaned that there were financial irregularities having to do with the band and several other components of the university,” said Jerry Bailey, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The suspected fraud is not directly related to the death of Robert Champion, Bailey said.
“It became apparent (from) some of the people that we interviewed (that) the financial irregularities had to do with the band travels and other sports and administrative components of the university,” he said.
His department sent letters Tuesday to the heads of the university board and the state university system to inform them that authorities have begun a separate inquiry based on the new information.
Bailey said it is “too soon to tell” how much money may be involved. Completing the investigation will take an extended time, he added.
Faculty and students are cooperating, but the department is having some difficultly in finding certain documents, he said.
In a statement Wednesday, FAMU board of trustees Chairman Solomon L. Badger III said the university could not comment, “but we are cooperating fully with this and all investigations.”
Champion, 26, died after a November 19 football game following a suspected hazing incident.
He “reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe,” authorities said in a statement. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No cause of death has been released.
After Champion’s death, some band members said it may have been the result of a rite of passage called “crossing Bus C,” the bus Champion was on after a game the night he died.
One band member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “You have to walk from the front of the bus to the back of the bus backward while the bus is full of other band members, and you get beaten until you get to the back.”
When asked what the point is, the band member replied, “For respect.”
A freshman band member also plans to file a lawsuit against the school, her attorney said Tuesday.
As previously reported, Bria Hunter went to a hospital November 7, a week after she allegedly was beaten and nearly two weeks before Champion’s death.
Hunter suffered a cracked femur, deep bone bruising and blood clots after being beaten repeatedly on the thighs, according to arrest affidavits from Tallahassee police.
Three men — Sean Hobson, 23, Aaron Golson, 19, and James Harris, 22 — are charged with hazing, a crime under Florida law. Hobson and Golson are charged with felony battery as well in the Hunter case.