Former SIUE employee pleads guilty to lying to federal agents

The former project manager of a training program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to charges that he lied to federal investigators about hiding a conflict of interest when he secured government-funded contracts for a firm owned by a relative.

Kwa Mister, 38, of Fairview Heights, could spend up to 10 years in prison in addition to paying a fine of up to $250,000.

According to Southern Illinois U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton, as part of an agreement between the Illinois Department of Transportation and SIUE’s Highway Construction Preparatory Training Program, some of the university’s costs as part of the program were reimbursed by IDOT. Mister admitted he lied to U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Transportation auditors when they asked whether he steered more than $85,000 in consulting contracts to a firm his mother owned between 2008 and 2011. He never disclosed the family relationship to the university.

SIUE placed Mister on leave in April 2012 as part of the university’s own investigation. He resigned in early May of that year. Sentencing for Mister was set for July 24.