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FAMU law endowed chair is issue in Ky. fen-phen case



It's been five years since attorney Shirley Cunningham gave $1-million to FAMU's law school, on the condition he get a $100,000-a-year position at the Orlando college.

But that money is being scrutinized once again in a Kentucky wire fraud case against Cunningham and two other lawyers accused of bilking more than 400 clients out of some $42 million from a fen-phen drug settlement.

According to the Associated Press, federal prosecutors said they might use evidence that attorney Cunningham, a co-owner of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin, used money taken from clients to endow the chair, which is the subject of a separate investigation.

Cunningham and co-defendants William Gallion and Melbourne Mills Jr. are in jail awaiting their January trial on charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud. A state court judge has ruled that the three men owe more than 440 clients at least $42 million. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Voorhees said in one motion filed this week that evidence would show Cunningham's $1 million gift came from fen-phen funds from clients, according to the AP.

Former interim FAMU president Castell Bryant fired Cunningham in 2005 after finding he was getting paid yet did no work at the law school. That ghost employee scandal was one in a string of problems and controversies to plague the troubled law school since it opened in 2002.

Read the AP story here, and read the Times' latest law school coverage here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:25am]


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