Federal Judge OKs $4M Settlement in Lawsuit Alleging S.C. School Helped Former Professor in Scam

COLUMBIA, S.C.

A U.S. judge has approved a nearly $4 million agreement to settle allegations that Charleston Southern University helped a former professor swindle investors out of tens of millions of dollars, according to court documents.

Al Parish, a former economics professor at the school who was known for loud sports coats and a Web site that depicted him in superhero costume, pleaded guilty in October to federal charges of fraud and lying to investigators. The settlement between the investors and the 3,300-student university in Charleston was approved Monday.

Court filings estimated about 470 people who invested with Parish lost up to $80 million . Investors sued the South Carolina Baptist Convention-affiliated school alleging the fraud happened while Parish was employed there and he used school offices and equipment while duping investors into believing his funds were trading profitably.

Meanwhile, he lived a flashy life he owned a purple Jaguar with a custom-painted roof, a $1.2 million pen collection and had a penchant for the comedian Red Skelton’s paintings.

Parish promised his investors returns well beyond Wall Street’s wildest ambitions: 42 percent for his stock pool, 32 percent for his futures pool and 34 percent on his hard assets pool which consisted of artwork, watches, expensive pens and jewelry, according to a federal indictment.

Parish claimed he had amnesia when authorities announced their investigation in April. A psychiatrist told authorities Parish’s condition was stress-induced but also said that his memory improved after he learned amnesia was not a defense to his charges. He is set to be sentenced in June, and officials have recommended a minimum sentence of 30 years.

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