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Post date: April 26 2002

Attorney General Reaches Settlement With Art Museum

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that he has reached a settlement with the National Museum of Catholic Art and History which will result in the repayment of nearly $90,000 in museum funds used to make inappropriate and extravagant expenditures.

The settlement is the result of a 10-month investigation by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau into payments received by Christina Cox, the museum’s executive director, which she claimed were in lieu of her annual compensation.

Cox’s 1999 employment contract with the museum set her annual salary at $85,000. The contract also provided for a potential 25 percent performance bonus. Besides her salary that year, Cox received an additional $86,328, which, with taxes withheld on that additional amount, brought her total compensation to $194,194. Upon review by the Attorney General, it was determined that the additional payments were improper because they defrayed personal expenses for travel, furnishings and entertainment.

Under the settlement, Cox will repay the sum of $86,328 to the museum by having $21,582 deducted from her existing compensation each year for the next four years. The settlement also requires the museum to provide the Attorney General and the State Education Department with annual financial schedules detailing Cox’s employment benefits, including salary; life insurance; health care; personal living expenses; and travel, meal, and entertainment expenses.

In addition to the repayment, the museum has taken action to improve its management and operations, including the establishment of such cash control procedures as pre-set monetary limits and reimbursement procedures incurred for travel, fund raising and public relations. The museum also has created three new core management positions: a managing director; controller; and head curator.

The museum, located in Manhattan, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the culture and history of Catholic artwork, artifacts and documents.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Charles Smith and Robert Pigott of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.