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The former dean of nursing at St. Catherine University allegedly embezzled more than $400,000 from the school and funneled the money to a business owned by a romantic companion, according to charges.

"Little to no services" were provided as agreed upon, according to charges. Laura Jean Fero, 54, who became dean in June 2019, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with six counts of theft by swindle in connection with siphoning of the St. Paul private school's money from 2020 until this past summer.

Fero currently lives in Florida, where she is dean of nursing for a university under AdventHealth, a private system of more than 20 hospitals and emergency rooms in the Orlando metropolitan area.

Fero was arrested late Wednesday afternoon at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. She remains jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail. Court records do not list an attorney.

Upon her appointment last August, Fero also was given responsibilities for overseeing the bachelor of science in nursing program at AdventHealth University's Denver campus. A statement from AdventHealth on Friday read that the university "does not comment on private personnel matters or pending legal matters."

A spokesperson for St. Catherine said Friday the school "is aware of the charges filed today" but declined further comment.

AdventHealth University's online biography for Fero says she earned nursing degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Phoenix and the University of Wisconsin. Prior to her tenure at St. Catherine's, she was the founding dean of Nursing and Health Sciences and director of nursing at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C.

According to the charges:

A university investigation found that Fero's embezzlement of roughly $412,000 centered around contracts the school had with JB & Associates, a health care marketing and cost analysis business. "Fero engaged in transferring significant funds to [JB & Associates] over multiple years while [its owner] provided little to no services to the university," the charging document read.

Emails between Fero and JB & Associates' owner show they had a romantic relationship throughout the time the school was doing business with his company. The school has a conflict of interest policy that would have forbidden such a relationship.

The charges identify the man, but the Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged.

After Fero left St. Catherine's, the school requested details from JB & Associates on the nature of the work it did. But the company submitted reports "that differed significantly from the reports he had previously sent to Fero directly while he was working for St. Catherine's," the charges noted.

Fero told police that she didn't believe the school's conflict of interest policy applied, believing it only covered married couples. She also admitted to "editing" some of the documents JB & Associates submitted.