Susanne Pomey and Randy Gomes should have graduated from Harvard in 2002. Instead, they're on probation for embezzling $100,000 from one of the oldest clubs on campus.
About the Hasty Pudding
The Pudding is the most visible of Harvard's elite social clubs. It was founded in 1795 "to cultivate the social affections and cherish the feelings of friendship and patriotism." Showing that the founders did not take themselves very seriously, they established the rule that "the members in alphabetical order shall provide a pot of hasty pudding for every meeting." It has had many famous members, including U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.
The organization is publicly known for two things: a "Theatrical" performed every year that features men dressed as women, and a parade that culminates in the naming of the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year and Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year. Past winners include everybody from Gertrude Lawrence to Samuel L. Jackson. Like many Harvard organizations, it raises and spends a lot of cash. Enough that Pomey and Gomes were able to steal almost $100,000 in 2000.
Remarkably, neither of the two was directly responsible for the club's finances. Pomey was co-producer of the annual theatrical, and Gomes assistant manager of the "Man and Woman of the Year" event. They managed to loot the organization without the treasurer noticing.
About the Crooks
Susanne Pomey had been an honors student at her high school in Vine Grove, Kentucky. She worked a camp counselor for needy children in the Tennessee Delta through an organization called Teach America. She was a former Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) cabinet member, president of the Alpha Kappa Theta sorority, and cofounder of a female-only social club called Isis. She had been profiled in the Harvard Crimson as one of the 15 "most intriguing" seniors at the college. (It has been suggested that she earned this honor primarily through being french-kissed by Anthony Hopkins at the previous year's Hasty Pudding parade.)
Randy Gomes was an honors student in high school, from Kingston, Massachusetts. He excelled at athletics and scored very high on the SAT test. On campus, he worked for Let's Go, the Harvard Student Agencies' (HSA) travel-guide series. Prior to the indictment, his plans included law school. Who knows, it could still happen. He sometimes claimed to be related to Plummer professor of Christian morals Peter J. Gomes, but I don't know if he actually was. Like Rev. Gomes, he is gay and black. Unlike Rev. Gomes, he became addicted to methamphetamines while in college.
The two undergrads made dozens of transfers from the Hasty Pudding bank accounts to their own. Some of this money was spent by Gomes on drugs. Much of it was spent on more prosaic material goods and parties. They had expensive electronic equipment installed in their dorm rooms (which adjoined each other in Winthrop House), made frequent shopping excursions, took trips and even hosted an elaborate party to celebrate Pomey's 21st birthday. The press made much of the fact that this party featured an open bar, but it was at T.G.I. Fridays, a less-than-elite venue.
During the 2000-2001 school year, Gomes travelled on stolen money to Cape Cod, Palm Springs, Chicago and New York. A later inventory of his dorm room lists a large-screen high-definition TV, two CD players, DJ equipment, a portable DVD player, a $500 color-screen cell phone, and and 91 DVDs.
In an understatement, Edward Bedrosian, an assistant district attorney, noted
The pair appeared to be financing lavish lifestyles.
The Scheme Unravels
According to the formal memorandum of the Middlesex County Superior Court, During the 2000-2001 school year, members of the Hasty Pudding club noticed that Pomey and Gomes appeared to be living beyond their means. And in May of that year, the new co-producers of the club's theatrical production discovered irregularities in the club's financial records. It appeared that there were shortages of between $40,000 to $50,000. In June, they learned that another $16,000 had been withdrawn from the club's account. Bank statements were obtained on July 27, 2001 that disclosed large withdrawals from the club's merchant vendor (MasterCard). A co-producer of the theatrical named Lena Demashkieh alerted campus police to the problem and has been given most of the credit for rooting out the crime.
Feeling the heat, Pomey ran to the cops herself and announced that her friend Gomes was running amok. She admitted that she had given Gomes a club credit card, and that he used it to buy drugs and pay off debts to drug dealers. She admitted to taking some money for herself, too, to pay for a few personal items.
When detailed financial records were reconstituted, it was shown that Pomey had been the first to steal, and that she had taken $22,549 for herself, while Gomes had pocketed $68,437.
In their initial hearings in Middlesex Superior Court on February 5, 2002, both of the Harvard seniors pleaded innocent. They claimed that the money had been taken by Gomes to finance his drug habit, and that Pomey had taken money to lend to Gomes to prevent his dealers from beating him up.
Curiously, the memorandum of the court claims that Pomey made full restitution on January 17, 2001. That's before the Pudding noticed money was missing; I suspect that there is an error in the date; January 2002 makes more sense.
They arranged a plea bargain, and both pleaded guilty to "larceny of property over $250" on September 13, 2002. Neither was sentenced to any time in jail. Pomey is enjoying two years of probation, and Gomes will have five years.
As of January 2003, both had completed their academic requirements but neither had been awarded a degree by Harvard.
For other Harvard scandals, check out
and others as I get to them.
Associated Press February 6, 2002 10:02am
Memorandum of Decision and Order on Docket Numbers 2002-00139 and 2002-00140, at http://www.socialaw.com/superior/00139.html