A White Professor Raised $120k In Philando Castile's Name — And Kept It


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A white Minnesota professor raised more than $200,000 in donations using the name of Philando Castile –– the Black man who was fatally shot by St. Paul police in 2016 during a traffic stop over a broken tail light, a state investigation revealed.

In a settlement agreement, the professor would not admit wrongdoing, but agreed to pay back the more than $120,000 state officials say she kept for herself.

In 2017, Pamela Fergus founded an organization "Philando Feeds the Children" with the purported purpose of paying off lunch debts of local school children in honor of Castile who, worked as a nutrition services assistant at various schools across St. Paul and Minneapolis before his death. After raising more than $200,000, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Fergus used just $80,000 of the donations to pay off debts, and pocketed $120, 738 of the funds.

Fergus must pay up the total to the state by March 2024. Ellison says the money will be used for its original purpose.

"This settlement helps ensure that the money donors gave in Philando's name will go back to where it was intended –– to help Saint Paul kids who struggle to pay for school lunches," Ellison said in a press release. "Philando Castile deeply cared about the children he served, and the children loved him back. Failing to use every dollar raise to help those children was an insult to Philando's legacy and all who loved him," the statement added.

In addition to paying back the money, Fergus will be barred from ever doing charitable work that gives her direct access to donation funds, property, or other assets. A criminal investigation is still on the table, a spokesperson from the Attorney General's Office told TwinCities.com, but that decision will be left to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

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