The former facilities director of the scandal-plagued University of Texas law school was arrested Thursday, following a long-term investigation into fraud there.
Jason Shoumaker, who worked at UT from 2007 until his firing last November, reportedly faces six charges of tampering with government records — his time sheets. According to news reports, Shoumaker took a flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands, stayed at the Wynn Las Vegas, and bought something with his credit card at Jose Cuervo Tequila in Miami (the airport there has a tequila bar), all while he was on the clock at work.
Shoumaker’s charging documents were not immediately available Friday from the Travis County District Clerk’s website, although court records do show he has a hearing scheduled for May 10 on a charge of driving with an invalid license.
The charges against Shoumaker, who is also a former city councilman in nearby Lago Vista, appear to be connected to a larger investigation, making Shoumaker a possible government witness. The Texas Tribune quoted an anonymous source saying the case was connected to a probe involving “several million dollars of questionable expenses,” that is now being handled by the local DA and the Texas Rangers.
As well, UT’s Office of Internal Audits began investigating the law school facilities last year. The office’s annual report for FY ’17 listed two investigations as “in progress.” One was an investigation of “law school facilities” and the other was in regard to mechanical engineering.
The Tribune reports that Shoumaker was placed on leave in July 2017, after complaints about his performance and absenteeism. However, the listed credit card expenses — all charged on a personal card — appear to be related to just the two trips.
The law school, however, has long had a problem with corrupt management and lax oversight.
Former dean Larry Sager ran up some $400,000 in four years on a credit card paid for by the Law School Foundation, an association of wealthy lawyers who spread money around a school that many hoped would admit their children.
Sager got a secret half-million dollar forgivable loan from the foundation, as well. Former law school dean and university president Bill Powers got $635,919 in deferred compensation from the foundation, most of which he “forgot” to disclose until years later, while also maintaining that he knew nothing of Sager’s own off-the-books pay.
Both Powers and Sager still work at the law school, with Powers earning a salary of $352,892 and Sager making $349,017.
Ironically, Powers would sometimes fly to a Caribbean island with the late trial lawyer Joe Jamail and other wealthy backers, all expenses paid, but the trips were permitted because Powers was said to be working, developing donor relationships.
Jon Cassidy can be reached at [email protected].