Estate and Elder Law

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Kent State Alumnus Withdraws Gift after Student Newspaper Raises SEC Questions

As reported by Plain Dealer, Kent State alumnus, Jason Cope, recently withdrew his $1 million gift to Kent State University after the student newspaper brought to light Cope's investigation by the SEC. reported that Cope was associated with a financial firm that defrauded 190 investors of $8.7 million in 1999/2000. In SEC v. Milan Capital Group, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11804 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 14, 2001) [enhanced version available to subscribers], Cope, along with several other defendants, was found jointly and severally liable for $19 million in illicit profits and penalties.

Cope's $1 million gift was to coincide with Kent State's unveiling of a "Cope Court" logo on the basketball court's sidelines. The University has since cancelled the court naming. According to the University, it was aware of the litigation at the time Cope made the $1 million gift.

Will a story like this have a chilling effect on university gifts? Maybe. Journalists (especially student journalists) are a hungry bunch, and in their zeal to discover, potential donors may fall prey to the same vetting process associated with politics.

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