Florida A&M 'Fraud and Misconduct' Uncovered During Band Hazing Probe

PHOTO: The Florida A&M University marching band performs on the field prior to Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida, Feb. 7, 2010.PlayWin McNamee/Getty Images
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A criminal investigation into the alleged hazing death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, has prompted authorities to launch a probe of potential fraud and misconduct at the school.

Champion's death has also triggered an investigation in his home state of Georgia. The Associated Press reported that concerns over "inappropriate physical activity" between students spurred the DeKalb County school district to suspend all marching band activities.

Champion attended Southwest DeKalb High as did another Florida A&M student, Bria Hunter, who is suing FAMU after she says she was beaten so badly during a band hazing ritual that her thigh bone was broken.

Both Hunter and Champion, who died Nov. 19 in what police believe was a hazing incident, were members of the band's secretive Red Dawg Order. The group is made up of band members from Georgia, primarily from Atlanta, Ga.

Since theChampion's death, the school has launched a task force on hazing and took disciplinary action against the marching band director, Julian White.

The school is now coming under fire for "potential violations of criminal law relating to fraud and/or misconduct by employees of and/or persons associated with Florida A&M University (FAMU)," according to a letter from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent Tuesday to both the chancellor of the State University System of Florida and the chairman of FAMU's board of trustees.

The letters did not specify the nature of the violations, but did ask the school to suspend any disciplinary or administrative reviews related to the alleged misconduct. FDLE is now initiating a separate criminal investigation.

Solomon Badger, the chair of the school's board of trustees, said in a statement, "We cannot comment on the investigation, as we have no further details at this time. But we are cooperating fully with this and all investigations."

Last week FAMU's board of trustees reprimanded school president James Ammons for the way he dealt with hazing.

Ammons has been addressing auditing problems at the school since he arrived at FAMU in 2007, according to the AP. That year an audit found $4.5 million in unaccounted sports tickets and lost equipment.

As for the FDLE investigation, Badger told the AP, "I didn't know anything about the fraud and I still don't."