Top St. John’s Official Blocked Payback Request

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Cecilia Chang, arriving at court she,s charged with stealing millions from St. John's University. (Photo By: Willie Anderson/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
Photo: Willie Anderson/NY Daily News Archive via Gety Images

The 2011 probe of Cecilia Chang, the corrupt former St. John’s dean who stole more than $1 million from the university, revealed that Rob Wile, chief of staff to St. John's president Father Donald Harrington, had charged $25,000 on brands like Prada, Ferragamo, and Lanvin to one of Chang's Taiwanese credit cards, which was billed to a university account. Now sources inside the investigation reveal that they told Harrington in 2011 that Wile should reimburse St. John's at least some of the money. Harrington said he'd consider the recommendation, "but it went nowhere," to the shock of one investigator.

Instead, "Wile got raises," as one source put it, after the investigation began in 2010. That year he received an additional payment of $150,000 in a category marked “other reportable compensation," according to an IRS form. Sources say the $150,000 included a $100,000 retention bonus and $50,000 in debt forgiveness. Wile received $370,000 in interest-free loans from St. John's and that year received more in compensation than any other current employee except the basketball coach, according to documents. He also approved some of Chang's expenses.

Harrington, who told investigators that Chang said her credit-card costs were covered by donors, also benefited from Wile's use of her Taiwanese card. In 2003, Wile charged $8,474.82 for Harrington and Wile’s long weekend in Turks and Caicos, supposedly a gift from Chang. According to sources, Wile brought along his then-girlfriend, who sources report was an undergraduate at St. John’s at the time; they’re now married.

Outside counsel is currently further examining the actions of Harrington and Wile, among other things, after revelations that Wile was in business with Harrington on a real-estate venture. The St. John’s Board of Trustees meets in Rome today.