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CUNY probe widens

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A state probe into financial irregularities in the CUNY system has expanded to look at hiring and spending practices at the system’s two-year community colleges, according to the New York Post. Already, the former president of City College, Lisa S. Coico, resigned earlier this academic year amidst a federal investigation into her finances, and a former assistant athletic director and basketball coach at Baruch College, Machli Joseph, was federally charged with stealing more than a half-million dollars of fees he collected for renting out the college’s gym.

State investigators, according to the Post article, asked for documents from Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College and Kingsborough Community College in recent weeks. State investigators have been inundated with tips concerning misuse of funds and cronyism, including questions about the purchase of vehicles, consultant fees, rental fees and the use of grant money, the Post reported.

The ongoing federal probe at City College led CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson Bill Thompson to commission an investigation led by State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott to look into what he called “waste, fraud and abuse and any unethical or illegal activities.”

Two top CUNY officials left their posts after the inspector general published an interim report in November. Jay Hershenson, the vice chancellor of university relations and the secretary to the board of trustees, stepped down from his post to assume a new role at Queens College. Frederick Schaffer, CUNY’s general counsel, who was criticized in the report, announced his retirement after the investigation went public.

ONGOING INVESTIGATION

The interim report also found no effective oversight of foundation funds at CUNY, incomplete reporting to the state for a past embezzlement case, use of tens of thousands of dollars in discretionary funds by former Brooklyn College president Karen Gould to pay for a part-time housekeeper and a retirement party, and insufficient scrutiny when determining pay packages for outgoing CUNY executives. The state investigation is ongoing.