At a state Medical Board hearing on Tuesday, former Keck School of Medicine vice dean Henri Ford testified that he suspected Carmen Puliafito for possible drug usage during his deanship at the Keck school. Prior to Puliafito’s resignation, Ford addressed his concerns and reported them to the a senioradministrator at the University.
In early 2016, Ford, now dean of University of Miami’s medical school, notified USC Provost Michael Quick about Puliafito attending parties with people of “questionable reputation.” According to Ford, he made the decision to contact the administration to express his concerns for Puliafito’s mental health and overall well-being.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Ford’s testimony was the first to indicate that people within the USC administration had suspected Puliafito for using drugs while serving as the dean.
Puliafito announced his resignation in March 2016 after serving as dean since 2007. In his letter to the USC community, Puliafito said he planned on returning to work in academic ophthalmology and wanted to pursue other identified opportunities in healthcare.
In July 2017, a Times investigation reported that Puliafito used illegal drugs, hosted in-office parties and kept in contact with criminals and other drug users during his time at USC.
Several weeks prior to Puliafito’s resignation, it was also revealed that he was present when 21-year-old Sarah Warren suffered a drug overdose at a party at a Pasadena hotel.
Puliafito accused Warren of introducing him to methamphetamine at the medical board hearing, which he testified to using with her once a week, according to the LA Times. He also denied Warren’s claim that he provided her with drugs, which she had told the Medical Board and the LA Times.
Warren did not testify before the medical board Tuesday, but the judge is still considering previous statements by Warren and her brother.
At the hearing, Ford testified that he first reported Puliafito to Quick because of his behavior a conference in Las Vegas. The dean did not show up because he was “partying” in his hotel room. Quick agreed to follow up but did not, Ford said.
Ford said he resigned as vice dean after seeing that the University did not require Puliafito to seek treatment and was instead told by administrators they had lost confidence in him.
Former federal prosecutor Debra Yang and her firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher are currently conducting an inquiry into Puliafito’s case.