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Notre Dame Law Clinic Administrator Must Pay Back $199,000
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Notre Dame Law

Summary: An ex-clinic administrator for Notre Dame’s Law School Clinic must repay the $199,000 she stole from the clinic.

A former University of Notre Dame Law School clinic administrator has pleaded guilty to stealing roughly $200,000 from the clinic during a seven-year period. Jennifer Ihns, 44, is required to repay the money in restitution as part of the plea, according to Law.com.

  
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In the February 6 court appearance, Ihns pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft and one count each of forgery and corrupt business influence. This plea came less than a week after she was scheduled for a trial. She is set to be sentenced in April.

Ihns will repay $199,000 to the University in restitution. University spokesman Dennis Brown said, “The criminal justice system has addressed this matter appropriately. Thankfully, there were no adverse consequences for our clients or the center itself.”

Ihns was charged in May by prosecutors after an investigation turned up years of financial fraud. Court documents indicate that Ihns was writing checks to herself from the clinic’s operating expenses account and the IOLTA account, an account that holds client funds in trust and accumulates interest that is used for legal aid. While they could not directly determine that she stole from the clinic’s clients, they fear that she may have stolen more than the $199,000 they so far uncovered. An additional affidavit from the St. Joseph’s County prosecutor’s office reads, “The breadth of her illicit activities may never be fully known.”

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Ihns started working for the law school in 2009 as a paralegal and office coordinator. Eventually, she was promoted to be the clinic’s administrator, giving her authority over the clinic’s bank accounts. She started stealing from the accounts immediately upon getting the promotion. They have found 255 forged checks so far.

The reason they had difficulty uncovering the money is that Ihns used multiple methods to cover her actions. She would alter the scanned images on some of the checks sent back from the bank to hide the fact that the check had been written to herself. She would also increase the amount on some valid checks so she could increase the money reimbursed to the clinic by the university to replace the funds she was taking.



The University started an investigation in 2016 into the clinic’s finances, quickly realizing there was a problem. She denied involvement at first but ended up telling investigators that she had stolen the money because she needed it. The school did not hesitate to fire her.

Do you think Ihns should do jail time for her actions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about law school members involved in stolen money, read these articles:

Photo: tour.nd.edu



 

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