February 16, 2009

College official admits to bike theft

A University of South Florida official has apologized for his role in a bike theft captured on video and posted on the Web site YouTube.

Abdul Rao, an associate dean paid $384,000 a year overseeing research grants for the College of Medicine, said in a statement that he took the bike from a parking area on the loading dock of the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute to help a day laborer in need of transportation, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported Monday.

I deeply regret this failure in judgment and the unfortunate attention it has generated, Rao wrote. I gave a man who does odd jobs for me permission to use a bicycle that was parked at the center. I acted out of compassion for this nearly homeless man; but I failed to consider that the bicycle belonged to someone on our Alzheimer's team.

The security tape shows a woman leaving a red mountain bike in the parking area at 2 p.m. Monday. At about 8:50 p.m., Rao and another man arrive in a van, get out and look at the bicycles before loading the bike left by the woman into the van and driving away.

Timothy Boyd, who had loaned the bike to the woman, said Rao told him after the bike was returned that he had only intended to borrow it for one day. However, Boyd said he wants Rao charged with theft.

Rao was placed on paid leave while the university investigates the incident, a spokesman said.