Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is looking into allegations that the head of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences inflated her academic credentials for at least a decade and received far more pay than her peers at similar institutions.
Coakley’s office said Wednesday it plans to reach out to the Cambridge honorary society’s board to find out how it is handling questions about Leslie Cohen Berlowitz’s resume, salary, and other issues following a Globe report that she falsely claimed to have a doctorate and earned total compensation of more than $598,000 in 2012. The attorney general’s office, which oversees charitable organizations in Massachusetts, also plans to look into whether the academy fully disclosed Berlowitz’s other perks, such as first-class travel, in tax filings.
“These allegations raise a number of questions and concerns for the board and for us,” said Coakley spokesman Brad Puffer, adding that the academy’s board of directors has the primary fiduciary duty to oversee the integrity of the institution.
Berlowitz and academy board members have refused to answer questions about Berlowitz’s resume this week.
But an academy spokesman, Ray Howell, blamed academy staff members for adding the nonexistent doctorate and other misstatements to Berlowitz’s resume and other documents. The National Endowment for the Humanities, which awarded the academy $1.2 million over the past decade based on requests that included the embellished resume, previously said it referred the matter to its investigatory arm.
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