It should not require a lawsuit to persuade Cal Poly to do the right thing and return a $625,000 donation from white-collar criminal Al Moriarty. That money is tainted, and it should go to the bankruptcy trustee, who can in turn distribute it to Moriarty’s creditors.
As we now know from court documents, Moriarty took out two private loans in order to donate $625,000 to help Cal Poly buy an electronic scoreboard for the Alex G. Spanos Stadium. That shows just how skewed the financier’s priorities had become. Even more outrageous, Moriarty now is suggesting that his financial troubles began when he made the donation.
Mind you, this was no selfless contribution. Moriarty received something in return: He had the name of his company, “Moriarty Enterprises,” prominently displayed on the electronic scoreboard.
That name remains on the scoreboard to this day; Cal Poly officials maintain they cannot remove it because the matter of “naming rights” is tied up in bankruptcy litigation.
The bankruptcy trustee, meanwhile, is asking Cal Poly to either refund the $625,000, plus 7 percent interest, or allow the court to sell naming rights to the scoreboard.
An attorney for the university has said the naming rights cannot be sold without Cal Poly’s permission. That leaves only one answer: Return the money.
If the university doesn’t have it available, perhaps it’s time to ask alumni and other supporters. This may already be happening behind the scenes, which is fine. We see nothing wrong with a more public appeal, though, because we suspect there are many in the community who want to see this made right as quickly as possible.
In as much as Cal Poly’s reputation has suffered — having the name of a convicted criminal on your scoreboard is inviting ridicule, after all — it, too, has been victimized by Moriarty.
But the more needy victims are those who lost personal savings, and Cal Poly must stand by them. The university should come out and unequivocally state that it sympathizes with the victims and is doing everything in its power to refund the money. We don’t know whether that refund will filter down to all investors. However, we do know this is an opportunity for the university to lead by example.
After all, Cal Poly’s own “Mustang Way” pledge states, “Integrity and character shall guide all our decisions and actions.”
If Cal Poly is true to that principle, it will return the money — with interest — as quickly as possible. It should then be free to remove the Moriarty name from the scoreboard long before the opening football game on Sept. 20.