UC-Davis Make-Believe

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As one who has written much about the federal prosecutorial system in which just about anyone can be indicted and convicted under the "fraud" statutes, I can say without a doubt that federal prosecutors engage in "selective prosecution," in which they choose targets for political reason. Given that reality, I am wondering today if the feds will go after Jennifer Beeman, who recently left her position as director of the University of California at Davis Campus Violence Prevention Program.

Before discussing Beeman and her alleged transgressions, I will say something about UC-Davis. Like all other UC institutions, Davis is highly-selective with very competitive entrance standards. Furthermore, the city of Davis is a low-crime area, compared to other cities in the country its size. In other words, as college "towns" go, it is a relatively safe place.

Yet, for many years, the university has reported that its rate of sexual assault was more than four times the average rate of the other eight UC campuses. That includes places like UCLA, which is located in a much more dense urban area than UC-Davis, and would be a higher-crime area than Davis. In fact, the sexual numbers reported for UC-Davis are substantially higher than the numbers for crime-ridden Detroit! (Even the “corrected” numbers are much higher than sexual assaults in the former Motor City.) However, after someone actually investigated these numbers, it turns out that the university was fudging them.

The question, obviously, is this: Why did UC-Davis fudge its numbers? The source of the false information was Beeman, who used inflated figures to increase the federal grants that the university could receive.

Readers have to understand that this is a classic example of real-live fraud as defined by federal fraud statutes. Unlike many of the fraud cases in which people charged really have not committed actual "fraud" but have run afoul of federal regulations or engaged in a legal action that the feds can re-interpret as being criminal.

Here we have a person who deliberately put false information in her applications in order to obtain larger grants. This money then went to the office that she directed, which meant that a least some of her own salary (if not all) came from this money, and we are dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollar. Granted, this is not Bernie Madoff, but nonetheless it is real, unadulterated fraud.

The question I have is this: Will the feds investigate and prosecute Beeman? We have the false statements, the fraud, and the motive. She even gained financially from this fraud.

While I yield to no one in my disgust for federal prosecutors and the methods they use, not to mention the kinds of charges they bring, nonetheless this is a case that cries out for prosecution. I did not object when the feds brought Bernie Madoff to the bar of justice (even a broken clock is correct twice a day), and I will not object if they take Beeman to the woodshed.

However, I doubt seriously that anything like that will happen. While people like Victoria Sprouse are convicted of fraud, despite the fact that prosecutors gave no evidence that she had engaged in fraudulent conduct, people like Beeman are given a free pass.

Remember the Duke Lacrosse Case? Federal funds were used fraudulently in that one, including the payment of thousands of federal dollars to Crystal Mangum for a "victims’ fund," and the payment of federal dollars to the SANE program at Duke University Medical Center, where former SANE Tara Levicy allegedly fabricated medical documents and engaged in medical protocol that clearly violated all medical standards.

Despite this fraudulent use of federal money, and despite the fact that prosecutor Michael Nifong and his investigator, Linwood Wilson, and the Durham police engaged in a number of other violations of the law, the only people ever charged in the case were Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans. That’s right, despite the massive lawbreaking, the only people charged were those who did not break the law.

That is what I believe will happen here. I have no doubt that Jennifer Beeman should be investigated for criminal fraud, and I cannot help but wonder if her superiors also knew she was turning in bogus number, but did nothing about it. Compare this to the way that the feds usually do business, and you can see that you are about to observe a double standard in action.

Federal prisons are full of people who actually committed no real crimes, at least by historical standards. However, I can assure the reader that a person who committed federal crimes, and in broad daylight, too, will escape the federal hoosegow. Why? Because Beeman was engaging in "politically-correct" behavior, and there is no more "politically-correct" entity on the face of the earth that the U.S. Department of Justice.

October 6, 2009

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.

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