Former UT football operations director pleads guilty to official misconduct charge

The former director of football operations for the University of Tennessee has pleaded guilty to a charge of official misconduct for faking receipts to account for his expenditure of cash advances, reports the News Sentinel. Chris Spognardi, 32, pleaded guilty Thursday before Knox County Criminal Court Judge Scott Green.

UT first placed Spognardi on paid leave in August 2016 and, six months later, fired him, citing “information learned by the University’s Office of Audit and Compliance.” The university did not elaborate.

Spognardi appeared in court with attorney Jeff Hagood under what is known as an information, which means the former director of football operations agreed to skip a grand jury review of the case against him.

Assistant Knox County District Attorney General Bill Bright told Green that UT at the time gave Spognardi cash advances to cover travel expenses. He was required to account for his spending through receipts and invoices.

… Spognardi admitted during an audit by the state Comptroller’s Office and UT that he crafted fake receipts “to conceal the fact that he could not account for those funds.” Bright said the use of fake receipts spanned from June 2015 to July 2016.

He is not accused in the information of stealing the money or misusing it. Bright said Spognardi has agreed to repay UT $14,085. Hagood said Spognardi, who now lives in Florida, would repay the money before the Feb. 9 sentencing hearing set by Green on Thursday.

In a plea deal with the state, Spognardi is receiving a one-year probationary sentence and will be asking Green at the sentencing hearing to grant him what is known as judicial diversion.

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