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Ex-employee charged with embezzlement

A former Duke employee allegedly embezzled $267,000 from the University, according to an arrest warrant from the Durham County Magistrate’s Office.

John Cotton, age 49, is a former business manager in the Department of Surgery, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. Cotton was removed from his position in August and has not been employed at Duke since then, he added.

In addition to the embezzlement charges, Cotton is accused of securing property under false pretenses. He allegedly abused his position to order products and services worth $58,706 for personal use.

“This kind of case is extremely rare, which is [why] we take it very seriously,” Schoenfeld wrote in an e-mail Sunday. “The University has a number of business and audit processes to protect against theft like this, but no system is absolutely foolproof.”

Cotton, who lives in Raleigh, was released from Durham County Jail Wednesday after posting a $25,000 secured bond.

The warrant notes that Cotton was “entrusted” to receive the funds he is charged with embezzling, but instead stole them for himself.

“He claimed the goods and services were for Duke business when it was not,” reads the warrant.

Doug Stokke, assistant vice president of communications for Duke University Health System, deferred comment to Schoenfeld.

DUPD Chief John Dailey could not be reached for comment.

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