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USC Admits To History Of Complaints And Disciplining Of Former Med School Dean

Ex-Dean of Keck School of Medicine of USC Carmen A. Puliafito with U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, USC First Lady Niki Nikias and USC President C. L. Max Nikias. (Photo via Facebook)
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In a letter to the USC community, school President C.L. Max Nikias admitted to a history of complaints and leadership negligence from former Keck School of Medicine Dean Anthony Puliafito, who has been the subject of scandalous revelations from the L.A. Times about his ties to drug use and overdoses during his 10-year tenure with the school. He repeatedly sought company with drug users—often bringing them on the Keck School of Medicine campus after-hours— and dated a former prostitute who ended up overdosing next to Puliafito at a Pasadena hotel.

In the letter, President Nikias outlines how USC received several complaints of Puliafito's behavior as dean, which they addressed through University disciplinary action and leadership coaching. He also describes a pattern of leadership disengagement from Puliafito during the last two years of his tenure. Apparently school administrators confronted Puliafito in March of 2016, and he resigned at the end of that month. Nikias claims USC had no specific knowledge of illegal or illicit activities at the time.

He writes in the letter how a communications staff member received a tip about the Pasadena hotel incident in the fall of 2016, but that it was unsubstantiated. The L.A. Ties says it has spent the past 15 months making innumerable unanswered calls and inquiries with the University.

Up until the L.A. Times released its scathing exposé, USC still had Puliafito represent the school at fundraisers and he was still accepting patients for his ophthalmology practice. The former dean was known for his ability to attract money from high-profile donors, bringing in over $1 billion in donations (no wonder he had a $1.1 million yearly salary). After the investigation was released, Puliafito stopped accepting patients and was put on leave. USC has now hired its own investigator and has barred Puliafito from campus and from having any affiliation with the university, according to the L.A. Times.