Skip to main content

A college ethics professor accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a fundraiser she organized in honor of Philando Castile will pay back $120,000. 

That's according to a settlement agreement reached between Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and the professor, Pamela Fergus.

Fergus raised about $200,000 with her 2017 fundraiser, the "Philando Feeds The Children" project, which she said would go to paying off school lunch debt at St. Paul Public Schools. 

However, she is alleged to have only donated $80,000 to the district, with $120,738 going into Fergus' pockets, a lawsuit Ellison's office filed in June 2021 said. The suit said Fergus never registered her charity with the state and did not keep records. 

The settlement agreement announced Monday requires Fergus to pay $120,000 to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, which will distribute the money to St. Paul Public Schools to pay off lunch debts of students in need. The agreement also permanently bans Fergus from handling charitable funds.

“This settlement helps to ensure that the money donors gave in Philando’s name will go back to where it was intended — to help St. Paul kids who struggle to pay for school lunches,” Attorney General Ellison said in a statement. “Philando Castile cared deeply about the children he served, and the children loved him back. Failing to use every dollar raised to help those children was an insult to Philando’s legacy and all who loved him. 

"This settlement helps right that wrong by continuing Philando’s commitment to serving students in need and ensures that the powerful impact he had during his life will continue to live as his legacy to the children and all of us.”

The Philando Feeds The Children project began as a one-semester, in-class service project for an undergraduate diversity and ethics class Fergus taught in 2017. It had a goal of raising $5,000 but donations flooded in, quickly reaching the $200,000 mark. 

Fergus, who was a faculty member at Metro State University and Inver Hills Community College at the time, denied the allegations alleged in Ellison's lawsuit but did agree to the settlement. Fergus' last day with Metro State University was May 7, 2021, reports said, while she is still listed as a faculty member on the Inver Hills Community College website.

Castile, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016, was a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori at the time of his death. He was beloved by students and colleagues for his generosity, and was known to sometimes pay for students' lunches out of his own pocket when their families struggled to afford the cost.

Next Up

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Woman dies from injuries in crash that killed her husband, another man

The couple in their 80s died in the collision near Lake Lillian.

CPAP masks

2 Park Nicollet employees convicted of embezzling $500,000

The pair worked at a CPAP clinic in St. Louis Park.

Concert

No Jingle Ball this year? Twin Cities left off iHeartRadio holiday tour

The annual touring event usually visits the Xcel Energy Center.

Target store

Target gives first look at some of its Deal Days discounts

The Minneapolis retailer is holding its Deal Days event earlier than ever, in an attempt to drive sales after a turbulent year.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 11.03.12 AM

Man dies after crashing truck into western Wisconsin lake

The victim was unable to make it to shore despite being able to get out of his truck.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

Sheriff: Man who didn't return to campsite died in ATV crash

It happened at the Foothills State Forest and Spider Lake ATV Recreation Area

Richard Liu, aka Liu Qiangdong

Chinese billionaire settles lawsuit over alleged rape in Minneapolis

The tech billionaire was accused of sexually assaulting a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

US Navy Flickr - COVID hospital PPE nurse

Frontline worker payments: Over a million Minnesotans to get $487.45

Gov. Tim Walz says the payments will start going out on Wednesday.

19050650853_a4a6377429_k

Ed Sheeran to bring North America stadium tour to Minneapolis

It's the second show announced for the Vikings stadium in 2023.

Kim Crockett

GOP candidate Kim Crockett won't commit to accepting election result

Crockett has been a proponent of conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 presidential election.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 9.41.39 AM

Charges: Man carjacked father, daughter as they loaded groceries outside Cub

The father grappled with the suspect after he had pointed a gun at his daughter.

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 8.25.27 PM

Pilot, brother and sister killed when plane crashed into house are ID'd

The plane crashed into a house in Hermantown, Minnesota.

Related

Keith Ellison

AG: Ethics professor raised $200K for Philando Castile, only paid out $80K

The fundraising campaign was designed to pay off school lunch debt at St. Paul Schools.

Keith Ellison

Minnesota high schoolers will be reimbursed for canceled European trips

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced a settlement with the travel company Friday.

hutchinson health hospital

Hutchinson Hospital forgives $184K in medical debt following settlement

The AG's office accused the nonprofit hospital of violating a regulatory agreement.

Jeronimo Yanez found not guilty in Philando Castile's death

Jurors deliberated for five days before reaching a unanimous decision.

Keith Ellison

Alleged scam charity group banned from soliciting donations in MN

Minnesota AG Keith Ellison joined the FTC and three other state AGs in suing the group.

Philando Castile's family reaches $3M settlement in his death

The settlement avoids a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.28.52 AM

MN House members say they've 'lost faith' in Hennepin County attorney

They want Attorney General Keith Ellison to handle the case against the officers in George Floyd's death.