Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


While CATanese is away, the mice will pay

When Anthony Catanese became FAU’s fourth president in 1990, he found a small school dealing with controversy and uproar. When he left last summer, he courteously changed FAU back to the way he found it in time for his successor Frank Brogan’s arrival.

Catanese left for the Florida Institute of Technology last summer and as a going-away present for a man who made nearly $200 thousand a year, he was given a red Corvette worth $42 thousand. The problem with that is only about $16 thousand was collected to purchase the car. The rest was FAU Foundation money — money that is raised for scholarships, buildings, and other benefits to the school.

The money was funneled from the Foundation to pay Sara Catanese, Anthony’s wife, for work that she was supposed to be doing voluntarily. She recorded the hours that she put into decorating the president’s residence only after they realized this was the best way to get Tony’s new ‘vette.

Since then, Catanese has been president of FIT, where he makes an even larger pay check and drives two expensive cars (he kept the Cadillac that he drove to FAU). He did give back the $42 thousand, though, and isn’t facing criminal charges. The same cannot be said of Carla Coleman, who was the executive director of the Foundation and basically the woman who allegedly planned the whole thing. She is facing criminal charges of official misconduct, which might land her five years in jail. She has a deposition coming up on Sept. 22.

But the story doesn’t end there. The police may be satisfied with having Coleman take the fall all by herself, but Brogan isn’t. Or at least it doesn’t seem that way. Following the mold of political leaders such as Stalin and Castro, Brogan has begun his own brand of purges at FAU. Four people associated with Catanese or Coleman are either gone, will be gone in one year, or have been reassigned.

Two who have received one year’s notice are Diane Freaney, chief financial officer for the Foundation, and Catherine Stephens, an associate vice president and party planner for Foundation-related events. Nine other FAU employees are also on one year’s notice, but what separates them is the enormous pay raises Freaney and Stephens received under Catanese’s reign. Freaney had a nearly 14 percent salary jump, from $94,500 to $107,625, while Stephens’ raise was a nearly 23 percent pay hike, from $87,514 to $107,625. Coleman’s was 31 percent, taking her from $141,000 to $185,000. Incidentally, the average pay raise at FAU was 2.5 percent.

Susan Peirce, who was an associate vice president of the Foundation, became vice president for advancement at Saint Leo University near Tampa. Her raise was 18 percent, taking her from $108,745 to $128,124. Saint Leo is a Catholic school, showing once again that the Catholic Church may denounce sodomy, homosexuality and masturbation as sins, but do nothing about child molesters, Nazi sympathizers and now alleged donation thieves.

Anne Brack, Catanese’s executive assistant, allegedly acted as the “bag (wo)man” in the Corvette purchase. She took an envelope from Catanese, all the way up in Melbourne, to bring to Coleman back in Boca. I guess Brogan thought that since she liked long drives so much, she might as well do that everyday. Her new job is alumni affairs director at Port Saint Lucie. It’s a good 75 miles from her home in Boca, but only 68 miles from Melbourne.

Brack also received a pay cut, from $78,356, which was the average salary of a tenured full professor, to $60 thousand. Brogan said he wanted to choose his own executive assistant. I wonder if he means someone who will be the “bag man” for him when he steps down.

These four may be the first victims, but the purges aren’t over yet. As this goes to print, Brogan, along with other FAU officials asked Howard Guggenheim, the former Foundation chairman, to step down. Guggenheim made phone calls soliciting contributions for the Corvette and did not cooperate with an audit of the Foundation in August.

So far nobody has admitted to any wrongdoing and if Guggenheim leaves, that would bring the blind mice total to six (including Coleman).

In February, when the police started their investigation, nearly 30 Foundation members were locked out of their offices to avoid the destruction of documents or evidence related to the Corvette purchase. I wonder who the other 24 or so Foundation members are and how Brogan will deal with them. I can’t figure out which is worse — Catanese getting away with this, or Brogan coming out as the hero. Ick!

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    Diane FreaneySep 24, 2019 at 9:30 am

    I was imprisoned in my office by FAU Attorney Ondina Filipe and FAU Inspector General Morley Barnett. I am writing this on the advice of my therapist as treatment for the PSTD resulting from being shamed in front of the folks who worked for me and my imprisonment.

    I would love the opportunity to meet with University Press Students and discuss my version of what happened.

    BTW – my master’s thesis for Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania – A New Model for the Creative Use of College Endowments to Reduce College Tuition. July 1, 1999 was completed while I was CFO of the FAU Foundation.

    I know this article is archived and I am not sure if this will be read by students or not.