Skip to comments.Phony donor duped St. Mary's in big scam
Posted on 10/18/2004 3:15:54 PM PDT by swilhelm73
St. Mary's College was duped into believing it would receive a historic $121 million pledge in an elaborate scheme replete with forged documents and fake identities that led the college to build a science building before any money materialized, according to a report the college released Friday.
The scandal began in 1997 when a few St. Mary's officials were introduced to the man who promised the money, Conrad Colbrandt, through a trusted and generous benefactor whose reputation gave Colbrandt instant credibility. The report, by former U.S. Attorney Neal Stephens, plainly states college officials could have averted the disaster had they simply asked more questions about the pledge and not honored Colbrandt's insistence on anonymity.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
Sounds like Dan Rather.
Officials at St. Mary's were so confident in Conrad Colbrandt's pledge that they reportedly gave him an autographed copy of John Muir's "My First Summer in the Sierra" and a first-edition copy of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" in gratitude. They took out a loan and floated a bond to finance construction of J.C. Gatehouse Hall when the money still hadn't appeared four years after the pledge was made.
College President Brother Craig Franz and others apparently remained confident in Colbrandt until he told them in early August that the money would never appear and said he was the victim of a real estate scam.
Walnut Creek police are investigating the alleged scam, in which more than 100 people were bilked out of millions of dollars. Investigators are looking for real estate broker John Banker, whom the Contra Costa County district attorney's office named a "prime suspect" in the scheme.
By 2001, the Spirit of St. Mary's fund-raising campaign, which began in 1997, had raised $195.5 million, exceeding its goal by $45.5 million. College officials say Colbrandt pledged 57 percent of the total -- $112 million, a figure that far eclipsed the school's previous record pledge of $10 million.
Colleges often ask large donors to sign contracts laying out payment schedules, and St. Mary's received "written documented pledges from Conrad Colbrandt," Holtz said in an e-mail to The Chronicle. Campus officials won't say why they maintained confidence in the pledge as the years passed.
Colbrandt's relationship to St. Mary's at the time he promised the money is not clear. He is not an alumnus, and he didn't become a member of the advisory board of regents until 2000.
It is highly unusual for any college to receive a pledge as large as Colbrandt's, especially one like St. Mary's, which has only 4,000 students. Just 25 colleges and universities nationwide have received a gift in excess of $112 million since 1967, and most are large universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education -- although its list is incomplete and does not include the pledge to St. Mary's.
We have a St. Mary's University here in Texas, I was wondering if the one in this article are one and the same.
If it seems too good to be true...
This is my Alma Mater. It is in N.Cal! They were duped! But they were stupid as well!
Oh Well! Back to the election!
Nope it's the one I am currently attending out in California, about forty minutes to an hour away from San Francisco. Bad stuff, especially since they already built the new science building. Brother Craig, the president is resigning because of this. But, this article has more about this than i knew, i go here, thats frustrating.
Another SMC grad here. After reading all the articles and press releases on this, I still don't get it.
Either there was some sort of conspiracy with officials at the school to get the new science building built (i.e. by using the "pledge" to secure bonds that wouldn't have otherwise been obtainable) or it was a Santa Clara grad screwing with our endowment
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