Potential fraud is focus of SSU raid

Authorities are investigating whether fraud was involved in the misappropriation of grant funds by a Sonoma State University department that was shut down in 2007.

The latest turn in the long-running investigation into SSU's California Institute of Human Services came Thursday when the school's administration and finance department was raided by the FBI and other investigators.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office led the operation and said that the investigation involved the "administration and disbursement" of "tens of millions of dollars" in grants given to the university and managed by the institute.

The department was closed amid a cloud of questions about its finances. Its managers obtained federal and state grants for SSU — $22 million a year by 2006 — and provided training and education to social service agencies.

Asked what kind of charges might result from the ongoing investigation, Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez said that, if a case developed, "It would be some kind of fraud charges; it's both federal or state funds we're looking into. It could be a whole gamut of things."

The institute's two top administrators — Tony Apolloni and George Triest — were dismissed. No charges were ever filed against them, Gomez said.

"There were things that were being looked into," she said. "That's still part of this investigation."

Attempts to reach Apolloni, who also is an administrator in the Napa County schools system, and Triest for comment haven't been successful.

Computers and boxes of material were carted away from the university Thursday and it will take a while to sort through and examine, Gomez said.

"It's not something that can be finished within a week or two, it is kind of a lengthy investigative process," she said.

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