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Rao resigns before case closes

Dr. Abdul Rao, vice president of USF Health, has resigned after being accused of stealing a student’s bike.

The decision was his, said University spokesman Michael Hoad.

His resignation will be effected Friday, while four university officials will split Rao’s responsibilities for now.

University Police (UP) have closed the case and sent it to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s office, where it is pending investigation, said UP spokeswoman Meg Ross.

“The state attorney will determine if charges will be made,” she said.

Stephen Klasko reassigned Rao’s duties — he served as senior associate vice president of USF Health, vice dean of research and director of the School of Basic Biomedical Sciences — and sent an e-mail to department chairs outlining the assignments.

Patricia Emmanuel, the associate dean for clinical research, will act as medical director of clinical research at Tampa General Hospital and will be responsible for the Office of Clinical Research in the College of Medicine.

The associate vice president for strategic partnerships and government affairs, Phil Marty, will supervise the office of research in the College of Medicine.

Vice President for Research and Innovation Karen Holbrook will take over any issues concerning research compliance.

Additionally, graduate and postdoctoral issues within the College of Medicine will go to Michael Barber, associate dean for graduate and postdoctoral affairs.

There will not be a search committee to fill the (Sr. Associate Vice President) position yet, Hoad said.

Last week, surveillance video appeared on YouTube showing a student tether a bicycle to a railing on campus. Later, two men pull up to the area and load the bike into a car. Rao has admitted to taking the bicycle, but said he only did so because he was letting Victor Waiters, an acquaintance he described as “semi-homeless,” borrow it. The bike was returned last Wednesday, according to reports.

Senior Vice Provost Dwayne Smith and Paula Knaus, associate dean for faculty and staff affairs in the College of Public Health, head a committee that will review the case.

Knaus said that the committee’s goal was to complete the review by the end of the week, and the results would go to Klasko for determination of any further steps.

However, Hoad said it is unknown whether Rao’s resignation will affect the continuation of the committee.

Meanwhile, state prosecutors will determine whether Rao will be charged with bike theft. Hillsborough County prosecutor Pam Bondi said the state attorney has not yet received the case. Because it is a direct file and no arrests were made, she said she expects the case will move slower.

In general, bicycle cases often go through to the state attorney. It is unknown, however, what will come of the case at the state level.

According to state law, classification of property theft depends on price. Any stolen property exceeding $300 is classified as grand theft, and from $100-$300 would be considered a misdemeanor.