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Former Texas Southern President Pleads No Contest, Will Repay More Than $127,000

HOUSTON — Former Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge alleging she spent university money inappropriately and agreed to repay the financially strapped school more than $127,000.

As part of her plea deal with prosecutors, Slade will be given 10 years of deferred adjudication and must perform 400 hours of community service, the Houston Chronicle reported in its online edition. The deferred adjudication means that Slade’s record would be cleared if she successfully completes the judge’s terms.

A mistrial was declared in October in Slade’s trial on charge of misapplication of fiduciary property with a value over $200,000. If she had been convicted, she faced a possible prison sentence of life.

Slade pleaded no contest to misapplication of fiduciary property with a value over $100,000.

“We were not going to plead guilty to something we were not guilty of,” Mike DeGeurin, Slade’s attorney, told The Associated Press. “We could go to trial again and maybe six months later fight it to another draw, or we can resolve it and get on with our lives. That’s what happened.”

Prosecutors said Slade misspent more than half a million dollars in TSU funds to make extravagant purchases for her homes, including more than $138,000 on landscaping, more than $100,000 in furniture and other home decorations, including a 25-place dinner set worth nearly $40,000, and about $60,000 on a high-tech security system.

Prosecutors said Slade also misspent school funds to pay for bar tabs, manicures, spa treatments and exercise classes.

DeGeurin has said the money was spent to improve TSU’s image and court donors. He has blamed the purchasing problems on other TSU employees who had mismanaged the paperwork and said Slade became the scapegoat for all of TSU’s problems.

“I accept responsibility as the president of Texas Southern University with regard to the expenditures described in the indictment as misapplications and not ensuring that Texas Southern University policies were followed,” Slade said in a statement she read in court. “If I had the opportunity to do things differently, I would do so. My thoughts and prayers are with the Texas Southern University family to whom I apologize.”

The restitution figure of $127,672.18 was a compromise figure agreed to by DeGeurin and prosecutors, the defense attorney said.

As part of the plea, Slade agreed to withdraw a lawsuit challenging the charges against her, DeGeurin said.

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