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Stolen calling card leaves ASUA with tab

By Audrey DeAnda
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 12, 1999
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ASUA officials are stuck paying a $1,600 bill after an Ohio man allegedly spent one and a half years placing long-distance calls on their phone card.

Associated Students Business Manger Gail Tanner said that in June of 1998, she noticed $730 had been charged to an ASUA calling card from a phone number in Ohio.

Tanner looked into the phone charges and realized the card was meant exclusively for ASUA presidents, and the charges were "unusual" for that time of year.

"This card was issued before I or the adviser arrived in this department," Tanner said. "We weren't even aware the card existed."

ASUA officials canceled the card, but decided not to press felony charges on the advice of University of Arizona attorneys, Tanner said.

According to Pima County Attorney Jane West-by, the suspect may have been arrested on suspicion of theft of more than $250, which is a felony.

"I assume the money amount wasn't high enough," Tanner said. "The university probably didn't think it was worth their time."

ASUA staffers contacted the man who allegedly used the card and expected he would reimburse the organization, but Tanner said the cash never arrived.

Funds from the ASUA budget covered the charge, she said.

About six months later, however, ASUA officials noticed excessive charges of $840 on another phone card from the same number in Ohio.

"At first I thought CCIT (the UA's Center for Computing and Information Technology) didn't cancel the card from before," Tanner said.

She reported the thefts to UAPD February 9 and the Associated Students are pressing charges through AT&T Corp. and university police.

Westby said theft over $1,000 is a class-five felony. For a first time offense, punishment can range from six months to two and half years in prison.

"Most likely if the person has no prior offenses they'll get probation," Westby said UAPD would not comment on the case because it is still under investigation.