USC Admits It Received Call About Ex-Dean's Alleged Drug Use

Carmen Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and addicts who said he used drugs with them, the LA Times reported.

USC President C.L. Max Nikias acknowledged Friday that two receptionists in his office received an anonymous call from a blocked number in March 2016 about an incident in a Pasadena hotel involving-then medical school dean Carmen Puliafito.

"Neither receptionist found the claims or the caller credible and so the information was not elevated and did not reach a senior administrator," Nikias wrote in a letter to the USC community.

"Needless to say, we have already put into place a new system that documents and records all incoming calls to the president's office."

USC has begun the process to terminate Puliafito and strip him of his faculty tenure because of alleged substance abuse activities.

Puliafito, 66, a renowned eye surgeon, led the Keck School of Medicine for almost a decade before resigning in 2016. He remained on the Keck faculty and continued to represent the university at public events as recently as this summer.

The Los Angeles Times reported that during his tenure as dean, Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and addicts who said he used drugs with them. The paper also reported that Puliafito was with a prostitute when she overdosed on drugs in a Pasadena hotel room and had to be rushed to a hospital.

The same day as The Times report, USC said Puliafito was no longer seeing patients and was on leave. Puliafito resigned his $1.1 million-a-year dean's post in March 24, 2016, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities.

Puliafito is under immediate suspension from the university, barred from its campuses and any association with USC, including attending or participating in university events, Michael W. Quick, the university's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs wrote in a memo to faculty members.

Nikias previously announced that former federal prosecutor Debra Wong Yang has been hired to investigate the allegations.

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