Accounting director who stole nearly $13 million from USF is sentenced to 10 years in prison
By Divya Kumar, Tampa Bay Times (TNS)
Ralph Puglisi, the former accounting director who embezzled nearly $13 million from the University of South Florida, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison.
Puglisi, 60, pleaded guilty last year to using company credit cards for more than $12.8 million of charges, much of which went to adult websites as well as travel, home renovations, real estate, wedding expenses and other expenses.
While an initial report said he faced 6.5 to 8 years in prison, a memorandum filed by his attorney last week in federal court in Tampa called for a shorter sentence, saying Puglisi had history of mental and physical illnesses, including traumatic brain injury, which impacted his decision-making.
Puglisi was chief accounting officer for the University Medical Service Association, a nonprofit organization that provides personnel and other support to USF’s health care wing. He began embezzling funds from the organization in 2014 to support what his attorney described as a luxurious lifestyle for his then-wife, Donna McCoy.
The memo from his attorney said he had also turned to a website, mygirlfund.com, for companionship and believed he was in a relationship with a webcam model. He started sending her money in hopes that she could support her family and leave the website. His attorney said he sent him $6 million. She is sued by the USF, who are trying to recover the money.
The memo also says Puglisi cooperated with the investigation and USF, and has so far reimbursed more than $1.2 million.
An opposing memo filed Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office called the request for a shorter sentence “astonishing and unreasonable.” He said “greed, deceit, reckless spending of the proceeds of fraud and the acquisition of personal assets” were behind the crimes.
As part of his sentence, Puglisi will be held responsible for reimbursing the full amount to USF and the court has issued a forfeiture order in the amount of $12.8 million.
©2022 Times Publishing Company. Visit tampabay.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.