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Former Northwest Technical College provost sentenced

Charles Peter Giammona, 61, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty April 6 and was sentenced June 21 in Beltrami County District Court for two amended counts of felony taxes - failure to file, return, report, document.

The original charges included four counts of felony taxes - failure to file return, report, document - and a felony count of presenting false claim public officer - attempt theft public fund.

Judge John Melbye granted Giammona a stay of imposition, with successful completion of probation resulting in a misdemeanor conviction. He must complete 120 hours of Community Service Work to be completed within one year. He must comply with all aspects of delinquent taxes with the Department of Revenue, pay all delinquent taxes and penalties. He was placed on probation to the courts for five years. He must pay a fine of $1,068, supply a DNA sample, follow all instructions of probation and remain law abiding.

He was hired as NTC provost in June 2004 and was terminated July 2008 after financial impropriates were discovered, including when he allegedly made hundreds of dollars of personal purchases of goods and services with public funds under false claims that the transactions were Minnesota State Colleges and Universities-related.

According to the criminal complaint, Giammona was "involuntarily terminated" based upon financial misconduct disclosed by a special investigation conducted by MnSCU's Office of Internal Auditing.

Giammona's misconduct allegedly consisted primarily of intentional misuse of MnSCU funds for personal purposes. Giammona had used MnSCU funds to finance personal trips for himself, the complaint states. He spent public funds for "strictly personal purposes, activities and relationships including charging more than $1,000 of printing expenses for posters memorializing his deceased paramour against MnSCU funds."

Giammona's girlfriend, Damita Luvelle Wells-Hairston, died March 7, 2008, as the result of a car crash.

Additionally, Giammona allegedly improperly claimed and received personal reimbursement for expenses he had already charged against public accounts, the complaint states, adding the total amount exceeded $26,000.

In the course of the MnSCU internal audit, a number of e-mails, memoranda and other correspondence and documents were discovered which suggested that he had engaged in willful evasion of Minnesota income, sales and use tax laws, states the complaint.

The Criminal Investigation Division of the state Department of Revenue was contacted and a separate investigation was conducted.

In 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, Giammona was paid an annual salary ranging from $90,000 to $103,000 as provost. "That salary is many times the income level at which a Minnesota resident is mandated to file a state income tax return, regardless of whether any income tax liability is owed or not," states the complaint.

In 2006, he purchased a home in Beltrami County and personally applied for and received a homestead property tax classification. In his application, he represented that he was a resident of Beltrami County for voting purposes. Additionally he stated that his property's address was where he filed his income tax returns.

"That representation was not true," the complaint alleges. "In fact, Giammona had not filed either Minnesota or federal income tax returns for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007," it states.

Giammona "deliberately and illegally attempted to manipulate or frustrate that process," it alleges "He did so by falsely claiming 15 exemptions on a W-4 form he personally completed on June 14, 2004, at the time that he was hired. He maintained his excessive claims of exemptions at least through 2006, despite warnings from MnSCU."

During those years he also reportedly received income from a number of other sources. For example he received a lump sum payment of $44,000 from his former employer, Fisk University. He also received a substantial taxable disbursement of funds from a retirement account.

Moreover, the MnSCU funds Giammona allegedly misappropriated for his personal use constituted income to him, the complaint states. He reportedly filed no tax returns reflecting the receipt of income.

Mortgage foreclosure on his rural Bemidji home was filed in April 2008, with nearly $257,000 in arrears.