Wednesday, May 09, 2007

TSU - What's Wrong With This Picture

From the number of posts I've made on the subject, you'd think this was a Texas Southern University blog. It's not. I have been very interested in the proceedings there due to the University's standing as the second-largest HBCU in the country, and its historical role helping to educate generations of Black leaders.

Having said that, I think that, despite the "financial mismanagement" of the Priscilla Slade era, TSU was in much better shape under her leadership than it had been for years prior, and certainly in better shape than it is now with the governor's power grab under way. With yesterdays sentencing of former CFO Quentin Wiggins to 10 years in prison for the misauthorization of $286,000 in funds used by Slade to furnish and landscape her home, I couldn't help but think that the sentence is quite a bit out of line for the crime. Especially considering that:

...Defense attorneys said Wiggins was a dedicated employee who had done nothing wrong because the university had previously approved similar furniture purchases for Slade. They said he did not try to hide the purchases. When it was discovered that TSU had mistakenly paid for Slade's landscaping, she gave the money back...

Knowing that we're held to a higher standard and that opponents seem to come out of the woodwork when the issue is educating black folks, I've decided to try and dig up some comparable cases and see how they were resolved, so here is the first example from George Washington University, in which the the University agreed on a $1.8 million settlement with the Justice Department to reimburse funds embezzled by former professor Nabih Bedewi.

...Bedewi allegedly used some of the funds to make payments on his home equity line of credit, buy Washington Redskins season tickets, pay annual fees for a Florida condominium, make three monthly payments on an automobile lease and pay down credit balances for family members.

...and arranged for his brother's wife to get more than $36,000 in improper stipend payments by falsely claiming she was a graduate assistant according to the complaint. Read more...

Pretty serious stuff that demands a stiff prison sentence right? Wrong, how about 3 years. I'm sure there are other examples out there, and if you know of any, please share.

And before anybody gets all bent out of shape, I know that Wiggins and Slade engaged in inproper actions but their punishments should fit the crime, or at least be in alignment with established precedence of similar situations. What we have here appears to be another example of the sentencing disparities so prevalent in this country when the defendants are Black.

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