Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fraud: Penn State Right-To-Know Report 2010

Bill Schackner at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an update this morning to his report yesterday on the Penn State Right-To-Know Report 2010.And Penn State Bullshit Artist Geoff Rushton lawyers-up,
Penn State's tax filing did not identify officers or trustees of the university who have relatives employed by Penn State. Pitt provided that information in its tax filing, citing revised IRS rules this year.
Geoff Rushton, a Penn State spokesman, said Friday that school trustees and a consultant who worked with Penn State on its right-to-know filing authorized alternative language. Later Friday, he said an attorney for the university would be taking a second look at the requirement to be sure.
The language used in Penn State's filing was:
"The University knows of no significant transactions between it and any person described in the question other than transactions in the normal course of its activities. All such transactions are conducted at arm's length for good and sufficient consideration and the University believes that the terms and conditions of any such transactions have been fair and reasonable."
Let's take a closer look at this issue through the wool that Geoff is trying to pull over our eyes.

There is a long check list on the Form 990 for tax year 2008, which forms the bulk of the Right-To-Know Report, for determining what schedules an organization must fill out. Question 28 concerns financial arrangements between the organization and, colloquially speaking, influential people in the organization.
28 During the tax year, did any person who is a current or former officer, director, trustee, or key employee:

a Have a direct business relationship with the organization (other than as an officer, director, trustee, or
employee), or an indirect business relationship through ownership of more than 35% in another entity
(individually or collectively with other person(s) listed in Part VII, Section A)? If "Yes, " complete Schedule L,
Part IV .
b Have a family member who had a direct or indirect business relationship with the organization? If "Yes,"
complete Schedule L, Part IV .

c Serve as an officer, director, trustee, key employee, partner, or member of an entity (or a shareholder of a
professional corporation) doing business with the organization? If "Yes," complete Schedule L, Part IV. .
Penn State answered yes to Question 28 b (p. 6; All pages are pdf pages in the RTK Report.) . Hence there is no doubt that  such individuals exist, yet they didn't complete Schedule L, Part IV (p. 47), because, "The University knows of no significant transactions between it and any person described in the question other than transactions in the normal course of its activities." This rationale does not pass the smell test  The instructions for for Schedule L is as clear as day on this issue.
Report in Part IV business transactions for which payments were made during the organization’s tax year between the organization and an interested person, if such payments exceeded the reporting thresholds described below, and regardless of when the transaction was entered into by the parties. The “ordinary course of business” exception to reporting business relationships on Form 990, Part V, line 2, does not apply for purposes of Schedule L.
Here are the reporting thresholds from the instructions.
In general, an organization must report business transactions in Part IV with respect to an interested person if: (1) all payments during the tax year between the organization and the interested person exceeded $100,000; (2) all payments during the tax year from a single transaction between such parties exceeded the greater of $10,000 or 1% of the filing organization’s total revenues; (3) compensation payments during the tax year by the organization to a family member of certain persons exceeded $10,000; or (4) in the case of a joint venture with an interested person, the organization has invested $10,000 or more in the joint venture, whether or not during the tax year.
It is easy enough to see that there are is at least two individuals one person who meet  meets the third threshold. Old Main lists Graham as an officer and Joe Paterno as a key employee (p. 40) Now  and Graham's wife Sandra is an English prof at the University and Joe's son Jay is an assistant football coach.  Both Sandra falls within the definition of family member from the glossary of terms in the instruction for Form 990,
Unless specified otherwise, the family of an individual includes only his or her spouse, ancestors, brothers and sisters (whether whole or half blood), children (whether natural or adopted), grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and spouses of brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren(;)
and it is hard to imagine that either of them earning  she earns less than $10k a year. It's a sure bet that at a minimum these people Graham's wife should have been listed on Schedule L, Part IV. 

With thirty-two trustees, five officers-actually six but Graham's both an officer and a trustee-five key employees and the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows how many family members, there's a very good chance that the list on Schedule L, Part IV if filled out correctly would be very long.

Why did Old Main neglect to complete Schedule L, Part IV.  Graham just doesn't s like any transparency and my guess is that he and his Old Main brain trust  hoped that no one would notice. In fact, they did their best to keep the report out of public view by posting  it with no fanfare on an obscure place in on their Web site and   in a scanned pdf which would likely be bypassed by search engines.  Further,  unlike Pitt, which did complete this schedule, Penn State doesn't have to file their Form 990 with the IRS so there really isn't much of a consequence for them fraudulently filling it out should they be caught , beyond whatever small potatoes sanctions the Commonwealth's Right-To-Know law imposes.  So they figured that cheating was worth the gamble. 

[Corrected:5/30/10 9:52 pm]
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