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Legal Problems Multiply| At Oral Roberts University

TULSA (CN) - Oral Roberts University fired its senior accountant the day an audit was due because its president Richard Roberts knew he would tell auditors the truth about the tax frauds and "continued wrongdoing" of Roberts and his wife, Lindsay Roberts, a college director, Trent Huddleston says. Huddleston claims the Robertses ordered him to defraud the IRS and the college by misrepresenting hundreds of thousands of dollars of college money the Robertses spent on themselves, while they ordered professors to buy their own copy paper "due to an alleged tight budget." Two students also sued the college and the Robertses, in separate complaints, seeking damages for fraud, negligence, and conspiracy.

Roberts, the son of the founder, quit last week.

Huddleston claims he was ordered to defraud the IRS and the college, to list thousands of dollars of expenditures on the Roberts' home as expenses rather than assets, and to commit other financial improprieties.

For instance, he claims the university spent $122,886 to remodel the Roberts' home, more than $40,000 for their swimming pool, $4,780 on a pool table, and more money for the Roberts' "wet bar."

He adds: "These are only a few of the items which were falsely listed by the Defendants for tax purposes, while, at the same approximate time, faculty members were directed by the Defendants to buy their own copy paper due to an alleged tight budget."

Huddleston says he was fired the day the audit was due, "after 15 months of intimidation and harassment," because the Robertses knew he would tell the college board the truth.

He says the audit was ordered two weeks after three former professors sued the university and Richard Roberts - a lawsuit that revealed the enormous expense problems that led to Roberts' resignation.

Huddleston demands punitive damages for fraud, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful firing.

In the same court, students David Brown and Cornell Cross II sued the same defendants, claiming their wrongdoing and misrepresentations irreparably harmed their academic careers and career prospects.

All three plaintiffs are represented by Gary Richardson.

See Huddleston's complaint.

See Cross' complaint.

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