Cops Suspect Up to 300 Counts of Fraud in KTSU DJ Case
Note: This article was written by William Michael Smith and Houston Press staff writer Steve Jansen.
A TSU DJ has been arrested in an alleged pledge-drive scam, a local TV watchdog reporter said late Wednesday.
According to a tweet from Fox 26 reporter Isiah Carey late this afternoon, KTSU radio volunteer Michael Whitfield was arrested earlier in the day and could face up to 300 counts of credit card fraud for stealing radio-station donors' pledge sheets and opening credit cards in their names.
Earlier this week, sources who wished to remain anonymous already told the Houston Press that a KTSU radio station volunteer disc jockey with six years' experience was being questioned about multiple cases of credit card fraud perpetrated through the station's fund drives.
Monday afternoon, TSU President Dr. John Rudley did not return the Press's call to his office seeking confirmation and details.
Just minutes prior to Carey's tweet, we received another communication from a former station employee, who said that he had spoken to persons on campus today who reported that law-enforcement agents had arrived on the campus and had seized KTSU financial records.
This source, long associated with the university and the station, speculated the latest scandal would at a minimum lead to the dismissal of Station Manager Donna Franklin. "It was on her watch and she wasn't watching," the source said.
Our earlier source had reported that the station was rife with rumors about an impending arrest during the past few weeks, but that nothing official had been told to the staff or to station volunteers.
In January 2012, the Houston Press reported on troubles at the station, particularly a huge loss in audience share since Franklin took the reins.
Earlier this afternoon, KPFT General Manager Duane Bradley explained that during his station's fund drives, all pledge receipts are usually bundled and locked in the financial director's office at the end of each shift. He did note that occasionally items from the late-night programs might not be locked away until the following morning, and he was looking into ways to eliminate any possibility of shenanigans related to credit cards or cash.
Bradley noted that KPFT had only experienced one instance of fraud in its history, "but our regular audit caught that single incident very quickly, and the volunteer was reported to police."
The Press has reached out to both the Houston Police Department and TSU police, and will update this story if we receive a response.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.