A former California college dean who blew tens of thousands of dollars on improper travel expenditures — including first-class airfare and fine-dining feasts — is now under a criminal investigation, according to a report.
Michael Schroder, former dean of extended studies at Cal State San Marcos, is being probed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday, citing university officials.
Schroder was dismissed by the university in February 2020 after the newspaper detailed at least $41,000 in unallowable expenses he racked up between July 2017 and June 2019, including attending a Guns N’ Roses concert and an NFL game that he billed as official college business.
The former dean was among several Cal State San Marcos administrators who spent more than $300,000 on travel during university business between 2017 and 2019, the newspaper reported in fall 2019.
Documents showed that Schroder, former president Karen Haynes and other Cal State San Marcos officials dropped up to $700 per night at a resort and hired private drivers while billing the school for upscale eats and alcohol, the Union-Tribune reported.
Records show Schroder booked stays at hotels miles away from his university-sanctioned travel destinations — and filed dozens of fraudulent claims, submitted duplicate expense reports and got back undue reimbursements, according to an audit released in February 2020.
“We substantiated all of the allegations,” the CSU Chancellor’s Office audit found.
All of the fraudulent expenses were approved by other administrators, according to the newspaper’s analysis of Cal State San Marcos travel records.
Schroder, who was hired in 2011, was tasked in part with boosting the enrollment of foreign students and spent 127 days on the road between August 2017 and July 2019, records show.
He charged the university for stays at the Ritz-Carlton and other luxury hotels and dined multiple times at Vigilucci’s in Encinitas, California, where he downed a $130 chilled seafood platter, the paper reported.
Schroder is also being asked to make restitution for the expenditures, but a university spokeswoman declined to specify the amount being sought.
“We are fully cooperating with the district attorney and look forward to the successful completion of the investigation,” spokeswoman Margaret Chantung told the newspaper in an email.
Schroder, who has declined previous interview requests, could not be reached for comment last week, the Union-Tribune reported. The Carlsbad man opened a global strategy consulting practice in February 2020, his LinkedIn profile shows.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office, meanwhile, declined to comment on potential cases.
The CSU Chancellor’s Office has not said why its audit was limited to Schroder’s spending, the Union-Tribune reported. But Cal State San Marcos president Ellen Neufeldt requested the internal probe after taking over for Haynes in July 2019.
Neufeldt said the review looked at travel spending by vice presidents and Haynes for the 2018-19 school year and found some procedural violations but no criminal wrongdoing, the Union-Tribune reported.