Sports car gift leads to arrest of fundraiser

July 25, 2003

The chief fundraiser for a Florida university has been arrested for using donated money to buy a sports car she says was meant as a gift to the outgoing president.

Carla Coleman was charged with official misconduct for arranging the purchase of a red $42,000 (£26,500) Corvette for departing Florida Atlantic University president Anthony Catanese. If convicted, she faces a maximum five years in prison.

The university's fundraising foundation turned down the idea of buying Dr Catanese a car, but Ms Coleman allegedly did so anyway, funnelling donated money through a private company owned by friends. The friends will testify against Ms Coleman to avoid facing charges themselves.

Dr Catanese said he knew nothing about the scheme, though court records show his wife was given the money by Ms Coleman and personally purchased the car. Dr Catanese and his wife have not been charged.

When he was hired, Dr Catanese was embarrassed by disclosures that he had exaggerated his experience on his CV.

Ms Coleman has resigned from her job as head of the university's fundraising arm, which paid her a salary of $185,000 a year.

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