A financial law professor who lied to the Internal Revenue Service in order to hide nearly $600,000 in income will return to his job at the University of Minnesota after a month of docked pay.
Edward S. Adams has been on paid leave from the University of Minnesota Law School since the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed an indictment in 2017 alleging he masterminded a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme. Adams has continued to collect his annual $170,820 salary in the meantime. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in federal court late last year as part of a deal with prosecutors.
In a letter dated Feb. 26, law school dean Garry Jenkins penalized Adams with a monthlong unpaid suspension beginning March 2.
“As a tenured member of the Law School, and specifically one who specializes and teaches in financial subjects including corporate finance and secured information, your criminal conviction implicates” the school’s tenure code, wrote Jenkins. Specifically, Adams violated sections on “unprofessional conduct which severely impairs a faculty member’s fitness in a professional capacity” and “other grave misconduct manifestly inconsistent with continued faculty appointment,” according to the letter.
Adams is also banned from outside consulting or business activities until June 2024. He must make up the deficit of teaching hours lost during his paid leave before he’s eligible for sabbatical.
If Adams violates the terms of the punishment, it could lead to more discipline, “up to and including revocation of tenure,” Jenkins wrote.
The Star Tribune received the letter through a public records request. Jenkins would not agree to an interview about his decision.
“The letter you received covers the extent of what the dean can say about an individual personnel matter,” law school spokeswoman Monica Wittstock said in an e-mail.
Adams is an attorney who joined the law school faculty in 1992 and specializes in commercial, bankruptcy and corporate law.
The 2017 indictment alleged Adams stole more than $4.38 million from investors in a diamond business he ran and paid more than $2.54 million to his own law firm.
Adams agreed in October to plead guilty to lying to the IRS, and prosecutors dropped the rest of the charges.
“I have always maintained my innocence as to the original charges that were brought against me, and I am grateful that all of them have been dismissed,” Adams said in a statement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to comment on why it agreed to the deal.
In January, U.S. Judge Donovan Frank sentenced Adams to two years of probation, $5,000 in fines and 200 hours of pro bono work with legal aid services for low-income clients.
In court, Frank told Adams he deserved a harsher sentence than the year of probation that prosecutors had requested because of his role as a tenured professor who should be setting an example for up-and-coming lawyers.
“You clearly knew more than most that what you were doing was illegal and unethical,” Frank said.