Subpoena Sent To Penn State Suggests Feds Investigating Potential Fraud To Cover Up Jerry Sandusky's Sex-Abuse Scandal

By Michael O'Keeffe (NY Daily News)
March 2, 2012

The subpoena the Justice Department sent to Penn State last month suggests the feds are trying to determine whether university officials committed fraud to cover up the school's sex-abuse scandal.

The subpoena commanded Penn State vice president and general counsel Cynthia Baldwin to appear before a grand jury this past Wednesday, and ordered the university to produce mountains of documents. The subpoena specifically asked for papers that would show payments made by members of the board of trustees to third parties, records of out-of-court settlements relating to accused child molester Jerry Sandusky and his charity, The Second Mile, and any reports generated by investigations of Sandusky.

"If there are emails that show knowledge about Sandusky's alleged abuse by trustees or other officials, it is a serious problem for Penn State," said Los Angeles attorney James W. Spertus, a former federal prosecutor.

The subpoena for records indicates that federal investigators trust Penn State will cooperate with the probe, Spertus added, explaining that the information requested could have been obtained with search warrants or subpoenas compelling PSU officials to testify before the grand jury.

"This subpoena shows Penn State is willing to cooperate and let the chips fall where they may," Spertus said.

The U.S. Department of Education announced in November that it would investigate if the university did not comply with federal crime disclosure policies by failing to report allegations that Sandusky, who faces 50 sex-abuse related counts, had assaulted children on campus.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and the Campus Crime Statistics Act require colleges and universities to disclose the number of criminal offenses reported on their campuses each year.

But the subpoena sent to Penn State last month suggests that the federal probe is going deeper, and that investigators suspect university officials may have tried to settle claims with Sandusky's alleged victims with private payoffs, or they inappropriately used federal funds for other purposes.

Two former university officials — athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz — have been charged with failing to report a 2002 incident in a Penn State locker room that allegedly involved Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy.

Lanny Davis, the former Clinton administration official and Washington lobbyist who is representing Penn State in the Sandusky matter, did not respond to requests for comment.

Peter J. Smith, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, declined comment.

If evidence generated during the course of the federal investigation does become public, it could be a boon to any of Sandusky's alleged victims if they chose to file civil litigation against the university.

"It is fair to say if federal prosecutors are able to uncover information from the university which suggests a coverup, it would be helpful for any civil case," said Ben Andreozzi, the attorney for the person identified as "Victim 4" in the initial grand jury report indicting Sandusky. "We hope they will do a thorough job."