Donor defrauds tri-state

Contributed Media

A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck, who now faces up to 50 years in federal prison, has deep ties to Northern Kentucky University.

Erpenbeck, a former homebuilder who pleaded guilty last April to bank fraud, was an influential figure during his time at NKU as both a student and a donor.

His criminal charges include defrauding banks, financial institutions, construction lenders and hundreds of tri-state residents out of approximately $34 million.

Erpenbeck transferred to NKU after a year at the University of Michigan. A varsity baseball player at Michigan, he returned to his hometown university due to arm problems.

He played three seasons of varsity baseball at NKU while he attended from 1981 to 1984, and currently holds the school record for the lowest earned-run-average for one season, at 1.77.

As an alumnus, Erpenbeck was very involved in NKU’s Athletic Department.

“He was very good to us,” said Athletic Director Jane Meier.

For several years, Erpenbeck was president of the Norse Athletics Club, which helps raise funds for the athletic program. While on the board of NAC, Erpenbeck helped institute the Coach’s Corner, a program in which an individual commits to give $1,000 a year for 10 years. This program now boasts over 30 participants.

“It started a good tradition,” Meier said.

Another project Erpenbeck took on was the attempt to bring a football program to the university. Approached by Jack Moreland, then-interim president of NKU, Erpenbeck took great strides in efforts to start a football team on campus.

“Subsequently, we did not add football,” Meier said, “but he was the chair of the committee to make a presentation, to put information together to go to the board.”

According to Meier, Erpenbeck’s plan called for much of the funding for the program, which would have included building a football field, to come from student fee allocation.

His last involvement with the Athletic Department was around three years ago, according to Meier. Erpenbeck chaired the committee for Bill Aker’s retirement dinner, hosted at the Erpenbeck residence. Aker was Northern’s baseball coach for 29 seasons, and coached Erpenbeck.

“His intent was to try to help our program as much as he could,” Meier said. “He donated his time, and in some cases his money. I think he was positive with our program.”

Between 1994 and 2000, Erpenbeck donated $6,500 to the athletic department, according to the University Development office.

Erpenbeck was also a Regent at NKU. Appointed by former Gov. Paul Patton, Erpenbeck served on the Board of Regents for less than a year. His term commenced on July 1, 2001 and was scheduled to expire in June of 2007. However, Erpenbeck resigned on May 6, 2002.

Earlier this month, Erpenbeck and his father were jailed without bond on charges of obstruction of justice. Erpenbeck’s sister was wearing a transmitter when they allegedly pressured her to give “less-damaging” testimony against him, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Prosecutors are reportedly pushing for the maximum penalty. The charge of bank fraud could carry up to 30 years in prison, and the recent charge of obstruction of justice could bring 20 more.