Chicago State dean accused of taking $650,000 from national organization for personal gain

A Texas-based pharmaceutical association filed a federal lawsuit Friday alleging a Chicago State University dean improperly withdrew about $650,000 from its accounts for her personal use.

The Student National Pharmaceutical Association contends Carmita Coleman, Chicago State’s interim dean of the College of Pharmacy, siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization’s bank accounts for clothes, food and trips during five of the years she was executive director.

The association aims to help students of color, in part by advocating for more minority representation in pharmacy and other health fields. It is a subset of the National Pharmaceutical Association, whose members are professional pharmacists.

The lawsuit accuses Coleman of “exploiting her position” and breaching her fiduciary duty.

“Coleman’s actions were willful, malicious and undertaken with a reckless disregard to the rights of (the association) and its members,” the lawsuit states.

Coleman said Wednesday she had not seen the lawsuit but called it “disheartening.”

“I really enjoyed my time working on behalf of the profession,” she said. “I have always tried to serve my profession as best as I can.”

According to the lawsuit, the alleged theft was discovered in late 2016 as the organization and Coleman were embroiled in a separate legal battle over the association’s leadership.

Coleman was appointed executive director of the student association in 2006 and re-appointed four times, most recently in 2014.

National association leaders moved in late 2015 to appoint a new leader of the student group. Coleman, in response, tried to rewrite the bylaws to sever the two groups and allow the student organization to appoint its own director.

The national association in early 2016 went ahead with the appointment of a new director, Kimberly Lewis, a North Carolina-based pharmacist and professor. Coleman, however, refused to…

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