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Accused of Embezzlement, Ex-Official at Southern Vermont Commits Suicide

James Beckwith, the former chief financial officer of Southern Vermont College who resigned this month amid accusations that he had embezzled at least $440,000 from the institution, was found dead at his home on Wednesday night, according to the Burlington Free Press. He was 58. The state police believe he committed suicide.

Mr. Beckwith left the institution after he was confronted by the college’s lawyer about suspicious financial transactions, according to the newspaper.

An inquiry found that he had directed college officials to issue checks totaling $440,000 to a financial-management firm, ostensibly to cover legal costs associated with the settlement of a failed dormitory-construction project. He was accused of depositing the money into a personal account and using some of it to pay down a mortgage on his home. He had not been criminally charged in connection with those allegations.

Mr. Beckwith had served as the college’s acting president during the recently concluded leave of absence of Karen Gross, who had temporarily left the presidency to serve as a senior policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Education.

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