American University trustees are nearing completion of a probe into hundreds of thousands of dollars of questionable expenses by suspended President Benjamin Ladner and his wife, according to two sources with knowledge of the audit.
The school's 25-member governing Board of Trustees will meet within a few weeks to discuss the results and decide how to proceed with Ladner, who became president of the private university in Northwest Washington in 1994.
Ladner was placed on administrative leave Aug. 24, a few months after the board began reviewing the expenses of the president and his wife, Nancy Bullard Ladner, who is described on the university's Web site as a volunteer who represents the Ladner presidency.
Ladner's duties are being carried out by the acting president, Cornelius M. Kerwin, who had been provost.
The audit was prompted by an anonymous letter detailing what it said were questionable travel and entertainment expenses by the Ladners, according to sources close to the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their role.
Ladner did not return repeated phone calls. His attorney, David Ogden, said that after reviewing the issues involved in the audit, "we are confident that it will result in a positive outcome for him."
Leslie E. Bains, the new chairman of the board under whom the investigation was launched, did not return numerous phone calls, and other trustees would not publicly discuss the probe.
A third source familiar with the investigation said that trustees were reviewing $300,000 to $400,000 in expenses over several years but that the total could be higher. Included was the use of a university car for personal reasons, the source said.
Reginald Green, one of Ladner's former chauffeurs, said the Ladners often used the university car for personal reasons, including requiring him to take in and pick up their laundry and the work shirts of their chef. Ladner hired the chef early in his tenure, raising eyebrows at the time about his spending.
Ladner's base salary last year was $633,000, according to Internal Revenue Service records.