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Buffalo Administrators Plead Guilty to Larceny

September 8, 2017

Two former administrators pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing large sums of money from the University at Buffalo, with a longtime vice president pleading guilty to taking $320,000 from a university-related account and spending on personal expenses like concert tickets.

Dennis R. Black, a prominent University at Buffalo vice president who resigned last year, pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to felony charges, The Buffalo News reported. He faces a maximum of five to 15 years in prison for a second-degree grand larceny charge and between 16 months and four years on a charge of first-degree filing of a false instrument.

He reportedly spent stolen funds on expenses like tickets to see James Taylor and Liza Minnelli, to New York Yankees games and Broadway shows, and travel with his wife and his son’s wedding. He also allegedly spent on a private club membership and university staff parties at a minor-league baseball team’s games.

Black will repay the $320,000 to the university in restitution and $22,238 in state taxes. He admitted to filing a false personal tax return for 2014, according to The Buffalo News.

Black earned a salary of $287,385 in 2015 from the University at Buffalo, a public research university in the State University of New York System. He had previously denied deliberate misuse of university money. The Buffalo News reported last year that he was under investigation by state and local officials for questionable expenditures at the university, including using university funds to make charitable gifts in his name and to pay for his wife’s travel expenses. The investigation reportedly focused on expenditures connected to a $40 million university-affiliated nonprofit organization.

Another former university administrator, its onetime director of campus living, Andrea Costantino, pleaded guilty Thursday to fourth-degree grand larceny. She admitted to stealing $14,664 from the university and will pay the sum back as restitution. Costantino resigned from the university in August after two decades there. Her annual salary was $123,542.

Black is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10. Costantino is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6.

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Rick Seltzer

Rick Seltzer, Projects Editor, oversaw special projects and coordinated daily production for Inside Higher Ed from 2019 through May 2021. He joined the publication in 2016, covering finance and management. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The Baltimore Business Journal, The Bloomington Herald-Times, the Central New York Business Journal and The Harrisburg Patriot-News. He has covered numerous business, municipal, government and general assignment beats. Rick graduated from Syracuse University in 2008.

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