A college professor has agreed to surrender $120,000 in donations she allegedly stole and kept for herself after organizing a fundraiser in 2017 to settle student meal bills in the St. Paul Public Schools district.
According to the Pioneer Press, Pam Fergus organized the fundraiser in honor of Philando Castile, a Black man who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer during a traffic stop in 2016. Prior to his shooting death, Castile worked as a nutritionist in St. Paul.
Fergus apparently did not share all of the monies earned from the 2017 fundraiser, despite the fact that she is said to have raised $200,000. The Attorney General’s Office filed an enforcement action against her in June. Fergus eventually struck a deal, but she refused to confess any guilt.
According to the terms of the agreement, Fergus will pay the attorney general $120,000. By March 2024, she is scheduled to have paid off the full debt. The money will be used to pay off student lunch obligations at the St. Paul Public Schools.
Attorney General Keith Ellison stated, “This settlement helps to ensure that the money donated in Philando’s honor will go back to where it was intended – to support Saint Paul children who struggle to pay for school lunches.”
“Philando Castile genuinely cared about the children he served, and the youngsters reciprocated his feelings.” It was an insult to Philando’s legacy and all who loved him to not spend every dime given to aid those youngsters.”
According to the Pioneer Press, the agreement also prevents Fergus from participating in philanthropic initiatives that provide her access to donated monies or other property in the future. According to spokesman John Stiles, the attorney general’s office will determine if Fergus is subject to criminal prosecution.
“The AGO seriously considers whether a criminal referral is required in all cases when an AGO charities investigation finds the possible theft of charitable assets, and it will do so here.” “At the end of the day, any decision to charge or prosecute this case is up to the discretion of the proper criminal law enforcement agency,” Stiles said.
When Fergus started the “Philando Feeds the Children” fundraiser on youcaring.com, she was a teacher at Metropolitan State University. The endeavor was supposed to be part of one of her class projects. Fergus began paying off student meal arrears in the district when the donations met the $5,000 objective.
Fergus, on the other hand, is accused of breaking state charity regulations by failing to register as a soliciting charity, according to the attorney general. She was also accused of failing to preserve financial records and falsely claiming that the contributed monies will be distributed to the schools.
Castile’s mother initially welcomed Fergus’ philanthropic endeavor. However, after she refused to document how the donated cash was disbursed, she denounced the professor to the attorney general.