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Penn gets $15M Quattrone gift to research justice

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Frank Quattrone

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PHILADELPHIA  — The University of Pennsylvania has received a $15 million gift to examine the U.S. criminal justice system from someone who has had some experience with it: ex-banker Frank Quattrone.

Penn announced today that it is establishing the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, where scholars will identify, analyze and propose solutions for problems with the justice system.

Quattrone, a former high-flying Wall Street banker, was once embroiled in a major scandal involving initial public offerings of stock. He was convicted of obstructing a federal probe into Credit Suisse First Boston, but the verdict was tossed out on appeal. In 2006, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges if he stayed out of trouble for a year.

Quattrone said in a statement released by Penn that while the American system “may very well be the best in the world,” it’s not perfect.

“With each passing day, the frequency and sometimes tragic consequences of its mistakes, as well as the risk of random unfair outcomes for all Americans, are becoming better understood,” he said.

The justice center will be housed at the law school of the Ivy League university in Philadelphia. It’s expected to host conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as provide in-depth research on topics that might include reducing wrongful convictions, evaluating forensic practices and compensating victims of institutional misconduct.

“It will extend to justice the same revolution in evidence-based approaches and outcomes that are already taking place in medicine and education,” Penn law school Dean Michael A. Fitts said in the statement. A law school spokesman declined to comment.

Quattrone now runs Qatalyst Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank focused on advising technology companies on mergers and acquisitions. The Associated Press left a message for him today at the company.

His wife, Denise Foderaro, is a research assistant with the National Registry of Exonerations and an advocate for the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to clearing wrongfully convicted inmates.

Both are Penn alumni who have given previously to the university.

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