Texas Southern University’s former chief financial officer was convicted Thursday of misusing nearly $300,000 to help the school’s ex-president lavishly furnish and landscape her home.
Quintin Wiggins faces a punishment range of five years probation to life in prison. A sentencing hearing will continue Friday.
Prosecutors said Wiggins diverted $286,000 of funds at the historically black school into secret accounts that then-president Priscilla Slade used to buy furniture, landscaping and a high-tech security system for her home.
Wiggins violated university and state procurement rules by approving the purchases and by failing to tell TSU’s board of regents or other school officials about them, prosecutors said.
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, Wiggins’ attorneys said, adding that their client knew nothing about the security system.
Slade, who was fired last June, is set for trial in August on two charges of criminally misusing university money for private benefit.
The allegations against Wiggins, Slade and others coincided with a series of reports that revealed a pattern of financial mismanagement at the school. Gov. Rick Perry has called for a state takeover.
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