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FSU Professor's embezzlement conviction overturned on appeal

(WCTV)
Published: Apr. 10, 2015 at 1:48 PM EDT
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By: Julie Montanaro

April 26, 2017

An FSU professor found guilty of embezzlement has his conviction thrown out on appeal.

Former finance professor James Doran was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison back in February 2016.

Doran was accused of embezzling $650,000 from a student investment fund.

Tuesday afternoon, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that guilty verdict.

The court siding with Doran's defense team who argued Doran was acting as a fiscal agent of the non-profit fund and not as an FSU employee handling any federal funds.

The court acquitted Doran. So there will be no re-trial.

Doran's attorney Tim Jansen is happy with the results but says Doran now must rebuild his reputation,"Any time you're charged with a crime and you go to a jury trial...you know you're labeled. We hope that professor Doran can move forward and his reputation can be built back up."

We have reached out to FSU for comment.


By: Julie Montanaro

February 12, 2016

A former FSU finance professor is sentenced for embezzling from a student investment fund.

Today James Doran was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison, but will remain free pending appeal.

Doran was accused of transferring $650,000 into his private account and back. He contends he was safeguarding the money in a volatile market and none of it was spent.

Doran was sentenced to 13 months in prison followed by three years on supervised release. He was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.

Doran's attorney Tim Jansen says he was disappointed that the sentence included incarceration. "We believe that probation was appropriate because there’s no proof that he benefited at all," Jansen said.

Jansen says the judge agreed to allow Doran to remain free pending an appeal. "We believe the appeal has strong merit and we’re hopeful the conviction will be overturned by 11th Circuit Court of Appeals," he said.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News

November 19, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A federal jury has found a former Florida State University professor guilty of embezzlement.

James Doran was accused of transferring money from a student investment account into his personal account, without authorization.

Federal prosecutors say he embezzled a total of $650,000 from the College of Business “Student Investment Fund" between 2010 and 2011. The fund allows students to invest real money to essentially learn the ropes of investing. Doran was the faculty advisor.

Doran’s sentencing is set for February 12th. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.


News Release: U.S. Dept. of Justice

November 19, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Today, a federal jury convicted former Florida State University (FSU) Assistant Professor of Finance, James S. Doran PhD, 40, of Boulder, Colorado, of embezzlement concerning a program receiving federal funds. The verdict was announced by Christopher P. Canova, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

At trial, the government presented evidence that, between May 2010 and March 2011, Doran, while employed at FSU’s College of Business, intentionally embezzled money from the Student Investment Fund Inc. (SIF). The SIF was developed to give business students practice in conducting stock purchases and managing an investment portfolio. Doran, who oversaw the SIF as a faculty advisor, made a series of transfers totaling more than $650,000 from the SIF to his own personal investment account. He also used $10,000 in SIF monies to pay for a performance evaluation of his personal investment fund. Doran returned the monies after an audit disclosed his illegal transfers.

Doran faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 12, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. at the United States Courthouse, in Tallahassee, Florida.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the FSU Police Department, and the FSU Office of Inspector General Services. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jason R. Coody and Gary K. Milligan.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. The office strives to protect and serve the citizens of the Northern District of Florida through the ethical, vigorous, and impartial enforcement of the laws of the United States, to defend the national security, to improve the safety and quality of life in our communities through the protection of civil rights, and to protect the public funds and financial assets of the United States. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

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By: Julie Montanaro

November 17, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A former FSU finance professor is now on trial, accused of embezzling more than half a million dollars.

James Doran is accused of transferring money from a student investment account - into his own - without authorization. Accusations he denies.

James Doran was by all accounts a popular finance professor at FSU.

He is in federal court this week fighting charges that he embezzled $650,000 from a "Student Investment Fund."

The Student Investment Fund allows students at the College of Business to invest real money - up to a million dollars donated by the FSU Foundation - to essentially learn the ropes of investing. Doran was the faculty advisor.

Yet federal prosecutors say Doran made several transfers between the fund's account at Capital City Bank and his own investment fund at Interactive Brokers.

Federal court is off limits to our cameras, but three key witnesses took the stand in Doran's embezzlement trial Tuesday.

The then dean of FSU's Business School Caryn Beck-Dudley testified had she known about the transfers before they were uncovered in an audit, she would have been furious and fired him.

And the then CFO of the FSU Foundation Jerry Ganz testified that Doran called him literally "yelling and screaming" when he found out the Student Investment Fund was about to be audited.

Yet defense attorneys say Doran was responsible for the fund and was protecting its assets.

Their questions focused on Doran's duties. Witnesses admitted he was authorized to manage the Investment Fund's portfolio, that the money transferred into his account wasn't moved or spent and that when an audit brought the transfers to light, he immediately returned the money with interest.

Much of the morning's testimony - including the questioning of an independent auditor - focused on the wording of an original audit that labeled the transfers "an investment" and a subsequent tax filing that called them an "unauthorized diversion of assets." Jurors will have to decide which they believe.

Testimony in the case is expected to continue tomorrow.


By: Julie Montanaro

April 24, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A former FSU professor accused of embezzlement stood up and pleaded not guilty in Tallahassee's federal court Friday morning.

James Doran flew in from Colorado for his arraignment on charges that he embezzled more than $650k while he was a finance professor at FSU's College of Business.

The judge set his trial for June 15th.


UPDATED

April 10, 2015

According to FSU Spokesman Dennis Schnittker:

James Doran was employed by the Finance Department as an Assistant Professor starting on 8/9/2004, and he was promoted to Associate Professor on 8/9/2010. He was the Gene Taylor/Bank of America Professor. He voluntarily separated from the University on 11/16/2012.

The FSU Office of Inspector General Services is providing assistance to law enforcement authorities.

The university is unable to provide any further information due to the ongoing nature of the matter.


News Release: US Dept. of Justice

April 10, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging former Florida State University Finance Professor, James S. Doran, 39, of Boulder, Colorado, with embezzlement. The indictment, which was unsealed today, was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

The indictment alleges that, between May 2010 and March 2011, Doran, while employed as an Assistant Professor of Finance at Florida State University, embezzled more than $650,000 in funds held by FSU.

The arraignment is scheduled for April 24 at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Charles A. Stampelos at the United States Courthouse, in Tallahassee, Florida.

The case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Florida State University Police Department, and the Florida State University Office of Inspector General Services. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason R. Coody.