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Audit 'seriously flawed,' Armenti says

| Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 11:25 p.m.
Angelo Armenti Jr. talks with reporters as he stands outside Dixon Hall on the California University of Pennsylvania campus with his wife, Barbara. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Angelo Armenti Jr. attacked the State System of Higher Education for conducting a "seriously flawed" audit of California University of Pennsylvania's spending practices that may have led to his ouster as president.

The state system has not disclosed why Armenti was fired. But the day after his dismissal on May 16, the state released a report it described as an audit that raised concerns about cost overruns on the new $59 million convocation center and the financial relationship between the university and two nonprofits, the Student Association Inc. and the Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania.

Armenti questioned whether the state's financial examination truly is an audit. He said the audit team referred to their work as a "final audit" and contended the report "does not meet normal standards for an audit. It's been called an audit everywhere."

An audit of a nonprofit is undertaken to examine the use of donations and spending practices, according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

A formal audit requires the subject to be given a chance to concur or rebut any critical findings. Armenti said yesterday that he was not given an opportunity to respond to accusations in the state's report.

"I tried to cast doubt on the audit process, which called for no rebuttal. The auditing process is seriously flawed," Armenti said. "Even if it is not an audit and goes by some other name, I believe in America, it is still understood that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. The way to establish guilt or innocence is to give the accused an opportunity to speak, which was not an opportunity I've been given."

Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the state system, previously said the agency would not comment on the audit until recommendations for change are implemented by the Board of Governors.

Armenti said he contacted Auditor General Jack Wagner about the financial review. A spokesman for Wagner declined to comment.

Armenti learned yesterday that the state system has agreed to give him a six-month written notice as his contract requires and will continue his salary for that period. Armenti said he does not know whether the state will honor other terms of the contract, which had two years remaining and paid him more than $227,000 annually.

"They are, in fact, going to pay me for that period of time," Armenti said yesterday as he stood outside Dixon Hall on the Cal U campus. "I have nothing official, but I was told that by (human resources) officials here."

Marshall confirmed that Armenti's salary will continue during the six-month period.

"The six-month salary is something he's entitled to," Marshall said. However, there is no agreement to pay Armenti the remaining salary on his two-year contract, he said.

Armenti was fired after a five-minute meeting with state system officials in Harrisburg.

He met yesterday with the university's Human Resources Department to try to reinstate his health care coverage.

"We do know our health care actually was cut off the day after I was fired by the state system," he said. "We didn't know until now.

"I have no quarrel with anyone at Cal. It's a wonderful organization. They treated us very well," he added. "My concern is with the state system, and I believe this has become a state system without a soul."

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