In the hallowed halls of academia, so much is done on the honor system.
Students are expected to write papers without plagiarizing, and the professors don't go off to Google key phrases from every single composition. They assume that the quest for education and knowledge is enough guidance without checking.
So too do the maintenance workers go about their tasks at such places of learning as Northern Illinois University.
Waste bins are emptied, floors are mopped, and leaking faucets repaired. Buildings get renovated to provide a safe learning environment.
Paychecks are cut and distributed to those performing their tasks.
Then there are those for whom the honor system is a piggy bank into which they might dip their beaks and suck up a little more cash than those who would never think of doing something that violates the public trust.
At NIU, the associate vice president who was supposed to be ensuring that those greedy employees were held in check turned out to be one of the employees in need of observation. Robert Albanese, in charge of finance and facilities, was merrily selling scrap materials from university renovation projects and putting the cash into a private bank account that did not list NIU as a signatory.
The university tasked controller Keith Jackson with putting an end to the scheme when the private fund was uncovered last August.
Is there no honor among thieves? Apparently not. Mr. Jackson has just been accused of moving those illegal funds into his personal account. Rather than improve property control, he found a way to benefit from the recycling program that Mr. Albanese had begun.
Nine university employees have been charged with felonies relating to the theft.
The university's administrators are shocked by the size of the scheme, and they can't be feeling too good about their ability to vet employees. When the person in charge of stopping a crime engages in the same crime, it's not a ringing endorsement of the hiring process.
And to think that the taxpayers of Illinois were socked with an income tax increase, while the money gets put into the pockets of those devious enough to help themselves to it.