ANTIGONISH: Charges have been laid against the former finance director of the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.

James Edward Marlow, 53, of Lower South River faces two criminal charges and was fired from the university on July 19 after being accused of misappropriating approximately $250,000.

Marlow has been charged with theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000. The RCMP said Marlow was arrested without incident on September 27 and the charges were laid on October 2.

Following his arrest, he was released from custody on conditions, and is scheduled to appear in Antigonish Provincial Court on December 19.

In recently filed court documents, Marlow admits he forged invoices, requisitioned cheques and then deposited the money into his personal account. Marlow neither admits nor denies the amount of misappropriated funds alleged by the university, in his statement of defense but said he would make retribution.

In July, when the school’s auditor notified staff a vendor had received payment for an invoice it hadn’t issued, the university began an investigation.

Andrew Beckett, StFX’s vice-president of finance and administration, stated in his affidavit the invoices read “hold for pickup” so the cheques wouldn’t be mailed to the vendors. Marlow would then pick the cheques up personally, or have them delivered to him by a staff member. Despite the clear instruction to “hold for pickup,” the attention of the auditor had been flagged when one cheque had inadvertently been mailed to the vendor.

A manger from the accounting firm Deloitte investigated and found 32 suspicious invoices declaring to be from three vendors, totaling $264,098. While they didn’t quite look exactly like the legitimate invoices issued by those companies, the invoices did however, have similar templates, numbering and logo of the vendors.

Of the $264,098 worth of fraudulent cheques, Beckett’s affidavit notes that $229,023 was allegedly deposited into Marlow’s personal account, $20,125 was not cashed, and $14,950 still requires further investigation.

In a way of preserving Marlow’s assets in case a judgment is awarded to StFX, the university has obtained an attachment order for $229,023 against Marlow’s property in Lower South River.

The university is also asking for punitive and aggravated damages, interest on the allegedly misappropriated funds and legal costs.

The investigation is ongoing.