James P Pellow, CEO at CIEE

I am fascinated by the way people who hold power manage to get out of trouble practically scot-free. Take James P Pellow, President and Chief Executive Officer of CIEE (Council On International Educational Exchange).

Steve Fishman, a journalist with New York Magazine, wrote an article about the corruption at St. John’s University, New York. At her trial, Cecilia Chang admitted to defrauding St. John’s University. One of the notes she left, claims St. John’s was using her as a scape-goat to cover the crimes of others at the university.

Investigations uncovered the gifts she gave to several of her colleagues at St. John’s. One of those who profited by Chang’s employment was President Father John Harrington who in turn mentored the above James Pellow.  Crisis Magazine reported that:

… Pellow also received no-interest loans. According to the 2009 IRS 990 form, a loan of $300,000 was made to Pellow. This loan was declared to the IRS the same year that Pellow made a total compensation package of $745,445. A year later, in 2010, Pellow made $448,268 in base salary, $150,000 in bonus compensation, $90,282 in “other” compensation, $16,500 in deferred compensation and $47,457 in non-taxable benefits for a total compensation package of $752,507 for the year. Pellow also declared on the IRS form that he served as a director on one other board. According to Forbes, Pellow has served as a director of SAVVIS, Inc, where in 2010, he earned $75,000 in fees, $59,987 in stock awards for a total compensation package of $134,987. This was in addition to the more than $750,000 from St. John’s. Forbes also lists Pellow as a director at Cryo-Cell International, Inc.

It turns out that Pellow’s salary and bonuses by far exceeded those of similar positions at other Catholic universities. In fact, men his age and of his position seldom see these kinds of payments no matter the work-place. The way these men benefited from Chang’s presence at the university smells of questionable ethics. I wonder why others weren’t arrested along with her.

James P Pellow seems to have come out of the entire affair unscathed. Leaving St. John’s for CIEE was probably a wise move. Choosing to hire a man with Pellow’s alleged background makes no sense for a firm that touts its non-profit and volunteer profile. With all the noise surrounding the St. John’s findings, CIEE must have known about Pellow’s connection to the university. They are obliged to perform background checks on all of their potential employees.

Even though law makers decide something is legal, a particular action can still be corrupt. Distribution of and the effects of the use of power is something that interests me. Mainly that is because of  how much people in power get away with. Often without a single negative effect. At least if they are Caucasian and male.

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