Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard Accused of Fraud, Misappropriation, Criminal Misrepresentation
According to an independent investigation conducted by Kinney, Ellinghausen, Richard & DeShazo, a New Orleans-based law firm, Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard “engaged in numerous improprieties and falsities in his representations not only to school donors, but to the (LC) Board of Trustees.” The report, which was published by The Town Talk, reveals that Aguillard has repeatedly and consistently misled the LC Board of Trustees on the purpose of donations pledged by Edgar Cason and the Cason Foundation and that Aguillard misappropriated at least $60,000, including $2,000 for a pair of suits. Quoting from The Town Talk (bold mine):
The firm was hired by Gene Lee, chairman of the LC Board of Trustees, in the wake of whistleblower complaints filed against Aguillard by LC Vice Presidents Charles L. “Chuck” Quarles and Timothy “Tim” Johnson. Copies of the law firm’s report to the trustees, dated March 17, were obtained by The Town Talk.
“I am no attorney and I do not claim to have any expertise in federal or state law,” Quarles wrote in his complaint. “However, I fear the actions of the President are not only unethical, but also illegal. In my opinion, they constitute criminal misrepresentation, misappropriation and fraud.”
Earlier today, former LC Professor Rondall Reynoso reported that Louisiana College lost “the largest donor in college history due to the unethical behavior of Joe Aguillard.” Reynoso published a letter from the donor to the Board of Trustees, much of which mirrors the allegations leveled in the independent investigation report. Quoting (bold mine):
We deeply regret that we must now discontinue that support due to actions of President Aguillard which we believe to be unethical and potentially illegal. We disapprove of his use of Caskey funds for LC Tanzania without our permission and consider this to be misappropriation. We have suspected for several months that Dr. Aguillard has been misleading others about our statements and commitments. We believe that Dr. Aguillard has told others about our statements and commitments. We believe that Dr. Aguillard has told others about pledges to the school which we never made. We thought that we could stop the deception by choosing to communicate with Dr. Aguillard in writing but we have reason to believe that Dr. Aguillard has distorted even our written statements.
Although Reynoso redacted the name of the donor, both The Town Talk and the independent investigation report reveal the donor to be Edgar Cason of Coushatta, Louisiana. Cason is the owner of Fairview Trucking and at least 68 acres in the heart of the Haynesville Shale, land that, according to experts, yields more than $1 million a month for Chesapeake Energy. See 92 So.3d 436 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/11/12).
During the last two and a half years, Cason donated approximately $5 million to Louisiana College with specific instructions for the funds to be used exclusively for the development of the Caskey School of Divinity. According to Reynoso and others, Cason had contemplated eventually donating as much as $60 million to Louisiana College. The independent investigation report reveals that Joe Aguillard repeatedly deceived the Board of Trustees about the purpose and intent of Cason’s donations and pledges, essentially validating everything alleged in Cason’s letter.
Against Cason’s repeated and specific instructions, Aguillard spent approximately $60,000 on expenses related to a trip to Tanzania, where he hoped to build a high school, a project he titled “LC Tanzania.” During a trip to Tanzania in October of 2011, Aguillard spent at least $2,000 of Cason’s donations on two suits, apparently for himself.
The report also reveals that Aguillard repeatedly claimed that a donor, presumably the Casons, had pledged $10 million to pay for the construction of a dual-purpose law school and divinity school building. From the report (bold mine):
Furthermore, there is no evidence to support Dr. Aguillard’s claim that the Casons had donated a $10 million gift in the form of the building to concurrently house the Divinity and Law School on the main campus. Dr. Aguillard’s statement to this fact is in actuality conclusively false. In fact, Edgar Cason made it abundantly clear on several occasions that he had no interest in investing in “brick and mortar.” These statements should have put him on notice that the Cason Foundation was not and would not be contributing for the construction of a new campus building. However, Dr. Aguillard made several statements to the Board of Trustees that this money had been offered to the College for the purpose of a new campus building. During the December 4, 2012 meeting of the Board, Dr. Aguillard made no attempt to correct Mr. Gilbert Little’s presentation concerning the supposed existence of these funds. He later claimed that he simply forgot to tell Mr. Little that these funds were actually not available. It was only through the intervention of Dr. Quarles that the Board was prevented from making a decision.
Dr. Aguillard not only made material representations to the Board of Trustees, but he also misappropriated almost $60,000 from the Cason Foundation to fund LC Tanzania. This was done in spite of specific instructions from Mr. Cason that he had no desire to fund this project. After being confronted about this misappropriation, Dr. Aguillard attempted to mislead his previous action by seeking the Cason’s approval of an undated statement to approve the use of funds for LC Tanzania. Understandably, Mr. Cason refused to sign this statement as he was not willing, and had never been willing to fund this project.
Aguillard, it’s worth noting, refused to be interviewed by the independent investigators, even though they were hired by Gene Lee, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the Compliance Officer for LC’s Whistleblower Policy. For his part, Aguillard claims that he has already been exonerated by a “special committee” of allegedly hand-selected trustees, including, among others, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
(As a side note: If Tony Perkins was aware of these detailed accusations concerning criminal misrepresentation, misappropriation, and fraud and decided to dismiss them, then this story is going national, and Perkins has some explaining to do).
As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been an outspoken critic of Joe Aguillard for years. I’ve documented, on numerous occasions, the ways in which he has systematically eviscerated the reputation and credibility of Louisiana College. Last year, in late March, I called on him to resign or be fired. I renew that call, though, now, to be honest, it would seem more appropriate for him to be fired, to not even give him the “dignity” of resigning on his own terms, to treat him the same way that he has treated anyone and everyone who has dared to disagree with him. That’d restore at least some balance back to the universe.