Search warrant targets Lobo Club bank records, spreadsheets
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Agents with the state attorney general’s office have seized documents from a nonprofit fundraising organization that helps student athletes as part of an ongoing investigation into questionable spending by the University of New Mexico’s troubled athletics department.
A warrant made public Wednesday shows that the agents arrived the day before at the UNM Lobo Club offices in search of bank statements, spreadsheets, lists of donors, reimbursement records and other documents related to former Athletic Director Paul Krebs.
Krebs stepped down last year amid inquiries into the handling of public money within the athletics department.
The investigation began in 2017 after it was learned that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on a 2015 golf trip to Scotland that included athletics officials and private donors. The university was accused of using nearly $25,000 in public money to pay some private donor expenses on the trip.
In October, investigators also seized Krebs’ credit card records in an effort to determine whether he made a $25,000 donation to cover the school’s loss.
Prosecutors are looking at whether there were possible violations of the state’s money laundering, fraud and embezzlement statutes as well as conduct laws and the state Constitution’s anti-donation clause.
They have also alleged that Krebs asked employees to delete emails and text messages relating to the spending.
The attorney general’s office said in a statement Wednesday that it will continue the “highly active investigation into financial transactions at UNM and we will provide the public with updates as we are able.”
A message left with Krebs’ attorney was not immediately returned.
Krebs has said the Scotland trip was meant to strengthen relationships with donors.
A special audit of the athletics department and affiliated fundraising groups also highlighted a lack of financial controls over public money, resulting in unpaid access to luxury basketball arena suites, overpayments to coaches and donor perks that failed to elicit donations.
According to the latest search warrant, Krebs signed a contract with a travel company for the Scotland trip despite not having the authority to do so. The documents states that Krebs then asked the Lobo Club to pay the deposit for the trip.
Investigators say multiple interviews with former club employees indicate that the nonprofit group focuses on raising money for student athlete scholarships and had never been asked to help with funds for such a trip.
The former employees also addressed the basketball suites, telling investigators that Lobo Club had attempted to contact donors for debts owed for the suites dating back to 2010 but were told to wait by Krebs.
There was a list of donors in the club’s database that was identified as “Paul Krebs Only,” meaning only Krebs could contact them, according to the warrant.
The warrant also alleges that Krebs would distribute tickets to suite owners with delinquent accounts with the expectation that the owners would not withhold larger donations to other areas of the athletics department.