1. Archive

USF employee escapes charges

A University of South Florida employee who unlawfully tape recorded another employee's conversation during the aftermath of a well-publicized faculty fracas escaped criminal charges Friday.

Marie Boromei, an administrative services coordinator in the College of Public Health, was accepted into a pretrial intervention program, a common practice for accused first offenders. If Boromei avoids trouble for a specified time, the third-degree felony charge will dropped.

Prosecutor Bill Jennings of Bartow, who was called in after the local State Attorney's Office had a conflict of interest, supported the disposition of the case.

But some college employees said Friday that Boromei has not been sufficiently punished for her role in trying to discredit a secretary who sued an influential professor over the fracas. Marilyn Gregory, who also works in the dean's office, said higher university officials have seemed more interested in avoiding bad publicity than in protecting the secretary.

For her part, Boromei said she is just relieved that the case is over.

"I made a mistake. I didn't know any better. I tried to help somebody and got caught up in" the acrimonious politics of the college, said Boromei, who has been on medical and personal leave for several weeks.

Boromei said being charged with a felony "has torn our lives upside down. . . . It's taken a tremendous financial and emotional toll on my family. . . . But now it's over and God has blessed me with an ending that's manageable."

Boromei said she just wants to return to work. So far, her lawyer and doctor have helped her resist subpoenas to testify in a civil lawsuit resulting from the fracas. "I just want to stay out of it," she said.

Boromei was accused of recording a call from college secretary Yolanda Santos in March. Santos had been caught in the middle of a physically contentious faculty meeting in December and had sued one of the professors involved. That March morning, she was calling the dean's office to report that someone had ransacked papers in her office. Santos wanted to know if she should report the incident to police.

Boromei taped the call without Santos' knowledge, which is illegal under Florida law.

Gregory witnessed and reported the illegal taping but said she had to press USF authorities to do anything about it. At first, Gregory said, USF lawyers just wanted to counsel Boromei. Then Gregory told other officials and wrote a series of memos that she said forced the university to turn the matter over to police.

"I wouldn't want to see Marie go to jail for this," Gregory said Friday. "But I do think she deserves some kind of punishment. I have heard of other cases in the past where university employees committed minor crimes in the course of their work and were fired immediately."

Gregory said the taping was a continuation of an effort on the part of some college officials to discredit Santos. Gregory said Boromei urged her not to report the taping and "tried to get me to lie about it afterward."

"I think she should have been fired, or at the very least, reassigned out of the college. . . . Somebody should do something to let her know that that kind of behavior is unacceptable."