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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Slade to have own day in court

Former Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade and three of her aides — all accused of improperly spending university money — will be tried separately, a judge ordered Tuesday.

Although prosecutors allege that Slade is at the center of the controversy, she is scheduled to be the third person tried with a scheduled date of Aug. 10. Slade is charged with two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property.

Prosecutor Donna Goode tried to get Slade on the docket first. She said Slade's indictment is the most encompassing. "As goes Slade, so go them all," Goode told state District Judge Brock Thomas during the pretrial hearing.

The charges against Slade, Quintin Wiggins, Bruce Wilson and Fredrick Holts stem from her alleged use of university money for personal expenses while she was president.

Because the judge wanted to begin a trial in February, lawyers on both sides flipped through their calendars and then agreed Holts would go first.

Slade's attorney Mike DeGeurin said he didn't care about the order of the trials.

"I would have gone first," DeGeurin said. "It's all right with us to go first as long we got a separate trial and there was time to prepare."

Slade was fired in June after attorneys hired by the university concluded that she failed to follow university policies and state laws while spending more than $260,000.

A criminal investigation later revealed more than $1.9 million was spent during her tenure on such purchases as artwork, club memberships, spa treatments and tickets for sporting events.

If convicted, she faces a sentence ranging from probation to life in prison.

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