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    FAU investigates car purchase

    Florida Atlantic University Foundation workers face allegations that they helped FAU's former president buy a Corvette.

    ©Associated Press
    February 23, 2003

    BOCA RATON -- Florida Atlantic University has locked out employees of its money-raising operation while officials probe allegations that the workers gave former president Anthony Catanese school money to buy a new Corvette.

    Employees of the FAU Foundation were placed on paid leave indefinitely, university trustee chairman George Zoley said.

    The FAU Foundation solicits donations to pay for scholarships, buildings, athletic programs and numerous other university-related functions. Because the foundation is a registered nonprofit organization, federal regulations prevent any of its earnings from benefiting an individual.

    Zoley began the internal investigation Thursday, after being asked to look into the allegations by incoming president Frank Brogan and interim President Richard Osburn. It comes on the heels of Brogan's unrelated decision this week not to return Osburn to his former job of provost.

    Zoley expects "to retain an outside legal adviser and conduct an independent financial audit of the FAU Foundation," he said in a written statement.

    Catanese did not return a phone message left at his office Saturday.

    University attorney Ondina Felipe and inspector general Morley Barnett asked the university advancement office, which also raises money for the school, to produce purchase records of the Corvette.

    When the records weren't produced, Felipe and Barnett concluded that the university advancement office wasn't cooperating.

    Barnett then decided to have locks changed on university advancement offices and all others housing FAU Foundation records to avoid potential tampering.

    Motor vehicle records show Catanese bought a red 2002 Corvette from a dealer in Coconut Creek on July 24, 2002 -- three weeks after he left as president of FAU after 12 years.

    Catanese has denied getting the car from the foundation. Now the president of Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, he said he used his own money to buy the car.

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