FBI: UH officials cleared of criminal wrongdoing

Probe of concert scam brings relief to UH campus

Published  5:53 PM HST Nov 08, 2012
HONOLULU -

It was supposed to be a great concert fundraiser for the University of Hawaii athletics department.

"When I heard about Stevie Wonder, I thought that was cool. And when I heard it was a scam I thought, 'How does that even happen?'" said UH student Zach Lima.

The university lost much more than just money in the concert scam.

Jim Donovan lost his job as athletic director, and threatened to sue, and state lawmakers held a Senate hearing demanding an accounting of who knew what and when.

"I think we have gotten a black eye with how it was handled. I felt that from the beginning. Yes, Jim is a friend of mine and Rich is a friend of mine.  But, I still think this was a rush to judgment," said UH booster Mark Zeug.

The FBI made it clear, UH officials were nothing but cooperative from the very beginning.

"The FBI found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at the University of Hawaii regarding the Stevie Wonder concert," said FBI special agent Vida Bottom.

“From day one we regarded the university as an institutional crime victim and we focused the investigation on the suspects who received the money," Bottom said.

Across campus, there was relief that law enforcement took action.

"I think it's horrible that people tried to scam us. $200,000 is a lot of money and least they caught two people," said UH freshman Chelsea Lee.

"It’s good that we have these names and these individuals to hold responsible and we will just have to learn from this lesson and move on," said UH senior Joel Ragsdale.

"It will probably make them audit and plan a little better, especially when it comes to huge events like that and they will look into the sources better and it won’t happen again," said UH student John Libby.

When contacted Thursday, Donovan wouldn't say much, other than he was glad for the news and that he hoped UH could recoup some of its losses.

In a written statement on Thursday, President Greenwood thanked the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office saying this will help the university move past this episode.

On Wednesday, Greenwood said she expects an internal report by a task force on what went wrong, and how to improve internal controls will be released at a regents board meeting in Maui later this month.

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