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HomeNewsFormer AU Dental College Coordinator Indicted for Embezzling $300K

Former AU Dental College Coordinator Indicted for Embezzling $300K

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A well-respected coordinator at Augusta University’s Dental College of Georgia allegedly supported a lavish lifestyle over the last decade by stealing over $300,000 from university funds, according to an indictment.

Dawn Gantt, 43, was arrested last week on a Richmond County Grand Jury indictment for racketeering, accused of theft and making false statements and writings. She allegedly used the stolen money to pay her bills and buy extravagant vacations, vehicles, and other items, including over $10,000 in purchases from Louis Vuitton.

Less than a year after the university hired Gantt as the Dean’s Office Coordinator in 2015, she began making inappropriate disbursements from a dental practice plan bank account that supported the Dental College of Georgia dean’s office. They continued from 2016 to 2023, when her scheme was exposed, authorities said.

“The disbursements were improperly appropriated by an employee in the office who admitted the wrongdoing and who was subsequently terminated from employment,” the university said in a Friday statement. “The university’s internal investigation identified gaps in financial oversight processes, and corrective steps have been taken to prevent such actions in the future.”

Her crimes allegedly occurred between Feb. 16, 2016, and Oct. 6, 2023. During that time, she was celebrated for her work. At one point, she was presented the James A. & Erie P. Blissit Award, which honors an employee who “performs outstanding administrative support services and promotes a positive image for Augusta University.”

AU’s Dental College of Georgia operates Augusta University Dental Associates, a nonprofit dental practice that receives payments from patients and insurance companies for dental services provided by DCG students, residents, and faculty. About 10 percent of the revenue derived from the AU Dental Associates is distributed to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund, which is held in a Wells Fargo checking account. The purpose of the fund is to support DCG faculty, residents, staff, and student development by covering the cost of leadership programs, retreats, travel, annual events, and related expenditures.

Gantt was hired in July 2015 to serve as the Dean’s Office Coordinator. In her role, she maintained sole control over the account and all transaction cards and checks associated with it.

When the account balance ran low, Gantt submitted requests to DCG’s Associate Dean of Business and Finance, who issues checks for the requested amount. She then received and deposited those checks into the account. Gantt knew that she was not authorized to use the account to complete personal transactions, the indictment says.

“(Gantt used) the account to complete unauthorized transactions for the personal benefit of herself and others,” the indictment says. “In furtherance of her scheme, the Defendant submitted written requests to replenish the account, concealing the fact that she used a portion of the account funds for the personal benefit of herself and others.”

A lengthy indictment details 288 acts of theft, from as small as $39 for a payment to Peloton Interactive to as large as $8,060 for a payment to Launch Servicing.

Gantt, who resides on Crenshaw Drive in Grovetown, allegedly stole more than $305,000, the indictment alleges. She was arrested April 19 and booked into the Charles B. Webster Detention Center in Augusta before being released on bond. She faces anywhere from five to 20 years in prison if convicted, and she could be forced to repay the stolen money.

For the first few years of her theft, she mostly made ATM withdrawals of $300 cash, but she soon began paying her bills from the university’s funds, including hospital bills, a personal credit card, a car payment, and her phone bill. Then, she started paying for travel expenses with charges to Airbnb, Groupon Getaways, and CCI Hotel Reservations.

Payments to new credit cards began multiplying, with thousands going to Chase, Capital One, and Bank of America cards. She soon started getting direct payments through PayPal of several thousand dollars and even paid her HOA dues from her access to AU money.

In 2021, she made payments to NordicTrack, Mr. Appliance, Cabela’s, and Dillard’s. The Dillard’s charge of $408 came two days before Christmas.

Her lifestyle became ever more extravagant in 2022 with over $10,000 in purchases from Louis Vuitton. In the coming months, Gantt had multiple charges to rental locations such as VRBO, Airbnb, and Evolve Vacation Rentals as well as Delta and Allianz Travel.

In its Friday statement, the University said their campus police department coordinated with and provided investigative assistance to the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Georgia, as the case proceeds under the state’s jurisdiction.

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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