Priscilla Slade, the former president of Texas Southern University in Houston, agreed last week to pay restitution of $127,672 in a deal with prosecutors that allows her to avoid prison time on state charges that she violated her fiduciary duty by spending $523,000 of university funds on personal expenses.
Slade’s proceedings ended in a mistrial in October 2007, and the former president made her agreement with the district attorney just days before a second trial was to begin.
As part of the plea bargain, Slade publicly apologized for her actions.
“I accept responsibility as the president of Texas Southern University with regard to the expenditures described in the indictment as misapplications in not ensuring that Texas Southern University policies were followed,” she said. “ 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.”
Slade wrote a personal check to TSU for more than $138,000 in January 2006 to reimburse the school for landscaping at her new home after regents questioned her spending. She was placed on paid leave on March 16, 2006, and fired in June of that year.
An internal TSU audit released in April 2006 cited questionable spending by Slate totaling $650,000 over a seven-year period, including Christmas gifts for regents, furniture, and personal maid services. The outlays included $100,000 in furniture and home decor, and about $60,000 on a high-tech security system for Slade’s $1.3 million home.
Slade was indicted by a Harris County grand jury in August 2006 on two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property. Jurors in Slade’s two-month trial deadlocked after five days of deliberation on whether her actions constituted criminal behavior.
Former TSU chief financial officer Quentin Wiggins went to trial before Slade, and received 10 years in prison for authorizing the expenditures.
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded TSU’s revenue bond program to Ba3 from Baa3 in July, and put the university on rating watch for another possible downgrade.