UPDATE (7/7/17 at 4:58 p.m.): EPD has reclassified the Migos concert booking incident as a criminal investigation effective July 7, according to Captain Cheryl Elliott. EPD officer Ed Shoemaker said June 26 that the responding officer had determined there were no grounds for criminal fraud subject to the department’s jurisdiction to investigate. The case is now being investigated as possible “theft by deception,” Elliott said.
SPC Advisor Vernon Smith had filed a report and provided a typed statement to EPD March 29. Since it had been determined there were no grounds for criminal fraud, Smith’s statement became part of an information report, Shoemaker said.
Students lost $37,500 in the fraudulent Migos booking scheme, according to financial documents sent from Student Governance Services (SGS) to the Wheel.
A spreadsheet of Student Programming Council (SPC)’s finances for the 2016-2017 academic year titled “SPEAKER’S FUND-A” indicates that Emory paid $37,500 to third-party booking agency Global Talent Agency, an entity that falsely claims to represent musicians and entertainers.
Scott Wile, SGS senior office assistant, released the financial documents to the Wheel 65 days after the Wheel made its initial requests to Campus Life March 28. The Wheel also made 12 subsequent requests for the documents to Assistant Vice President for Community Suzanne Onorato, Student Government Association (SGA) President Gurbani Singh (18B) and former SGA President Max Zoberman (17C). Under the SGA Constitution, “the papers of the SGA shall be considered public records.”
SPC had intended to secure hip-hop trio Migos for the Dooley’s Week 2017 concert with the $37,500 deposit, but discovered that the booking was invalid. Global Talent Agency did not respond to request for comment.
SPC President Tamara Ezzat (18B) declined to confirm the amount of money lost in the scam, but noted, “With everything that happened last year, there’s a lot of trust lost from our students … and we want to make sure we regain that trust.”
In response to the Migos incident, SPC, SGA and Campus Life formed a task force to reduce the chances of a similar incident happening again, Ezzat said. The group generated ideas that would add safeguards for the vendor booking process, Ezzat said, declining to elaborate on the specific proposals.
Onorato said the group started meeting before the Spring 2017 semester ended. Onorato also declined to confirm the amount lost in the scam.
Emory Police Department (EPD) is currently assisting the University with an internal investigation into the circumstances of the incident, according to Sgt. John Harper. The investigation is ongoing as of July 6, Onorato said.
SPC Advisor Vernon Smith had filed a report and a provided a typed statement to EPD March 29.
When asked if the University is still working to recover the money lost, Onorato said, “Oh, we would love to.”
The speaker’s fund spreadsheet also reveals that Emory paid at least $85,000 for rapper Ty Dolla Sign’s last-minute April 7 Dooley’s Week performance. Emory made one payment of $10,000 and another of $75,000 to “dolla sign world touring,” according to the spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet indicates that the payments to Global Talent Agency and to Dolla Sign World Touring both came from allocated accounts. Under SGA Finance Code, allocated accounts are “SGA-controlled financial accounts” supported by Student Activity Fee funds.
Onorato said in March that if the money is recovered, “it would go back to students.” She did not clarify whether Emory would reimburse SGA if the money is not recovered.
Michelle Lou and Alisha Compton contributed reporting.