A Furniture Kingdom sales associate said he recalls the UF official accused of using university money to buy things for himself purchasing furniture at the store.
But University of Florida housing Senior Director Azfar Mian would always say the items — which individually cost up to $8,000 — were for the university and not himself, associate Ray Bingham told WUFT News.
“He’d come in and want to buy a bunch of furniture for UF,” Bingham said.
Mian, 41, was arrested Monday morning and charged with grand first degree larceny of more than $100,000 for spending university funds on personal items and services, according to UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes.
Altogether, Mian spent $180,608, according to the arrest report, but that number could rise or fall. Of that, $44,911 was used for furniture, the report said.
Bingham said Mian sporadically visited the furniture store on Northwest 23rd Avenue in Gainesville with his wife or “a couple other men” to buy upper-end bedroom sets, dressers, mirrors, beds, mattresses and dining room tables.
Bingham also said Mian sometimes told store employees that his “coworkers” would be by later to pick up the furniture.
Mian couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The phone number listed on the arrest report goes to UF’s housing department, and a separate number listed for him in the phone book now goes to a Gainesville brewery.
UF is investigating five other housing employees in connection with the purchases, Sikes said.
The items purchased with university funds are being recovered, and UF “will seek full restitution,” Sikes wrote in an email.
One Furniture Kingdom purchase was for a dining room table, six chairs and two arm chairs. This rang up to $1,341.
These pieces were to be used in an adviser’s on-campus residence, but a dining set that large wouldn’t be able to fit inside, the arrest report said.
The report lists a witness who saw the dining set instead in Mian’s house in Micanopy. Also, photos showing the furniture in his house were found on his wife’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted.
The photos showed several other items purchased by Mian that were recorded by UF’s Office of Internal Audit, according to the report.
After police received a search warrant for Mian’s house, UF auditors identified many of the fraudulent purchases inside.
Mian said he had the furniture in his home but was only “storing it” and “planned on bringing it back,” according to the report.
In addition to the furniture, Mian bought $37,171 in electronics, $24,801 in home goods, $16,309 in meals, $11,510 in landscaping equipment, $1,798 in items from FedEx, and he spent $44,108 on personal bills, including internet and electricity, the report said.
According to an internal email from UF’s housing department, the five other housing employees under investigation are: Jennifer Andrews, executive assistant; Curtis Harris, whose position wasn’t immediately clear; Kevin Morgan, an IT employee; Stina Schoneck, associate director of financial services; and Dirk P. Smith, warehouse/stores specialist.
Mian has been trespassed from campus, which bans him from communicating in any form with UF or coming within 500 feet of campus, according to court documents.
No employees have been officially released by the university, but Mian and the other five are on administrative leave, according to Todd Morrone, associate director of housing for public and governmental relations.
Mian was promoted to senior director a year ago after working in UF’s housing department for 13 years. In his most recent annual performance assessment, fiscal management was noted as “a strength area for Azfar.”
In the area of problem solving/decision making, Mian was said to “ensure decisions have no legal implications or human resource issues.”
He previously worked for Kent State University in Ohio as an interim director for residence services.
Mian was released from the Alachua County Jail at 4 p.m. Tuesday on a $10,000 bond, a jail employee told WUFT News.
Norb Dunkel, associate vice president for UF’s Student Affairs and a previous executive director of UF’s housing department, will lead the department in the interim.
This story has been updated with information from Mian’s arrest report and personnel file.