The saga of Jorge Gilbert, ex-Evergreen State College instructor turned alleged man on the run, keeps getting more bizarre. Hired at Evergreen in 1988, Gilbert retired amidst controversy from his faculty position in 2009 after Evergreen's auditor said he hadn't accounted for at least $50,000 in student payments he accepted as part of a study-abroad program to Chile he was in charge of.
Gilbert teaches Latin American studies with an emphasis in political economy of communications, among other things. He said he became an exile from Chile in 1974 after Augusto Pinochet became the country's dictator. But after Chilean democracy was restored, Gilbert served as the country's honorary consul in this state until resigning from that post this year.
In 2011 the Washington State Executive Ethics Board came down on Gilbert with a $119,578 penalty for sins against the Ethics in Public Service Act related to the initial 2009 investigation - infractions solidified and including depositing student payments for study-abroad programs into his personal bank account, entering into contracts on the school's behalf related to the study-abroad program that Evergreen had no knowledge of, and ignoring college procedures requiring waivers for all students studying abroad.
The $119,578 penalty levied against Gilbert - reportedly the largest the Ethics Board has ever handed down - included $9,900 in restitution that Gilbert was supposed to give the college.
On Thursday, the state Attorney General's Office filed a petition to enforce the order requiring Gilbert to pay up. The court filings indicate that the state and TESC have no idea where he is.
An assistant attorney general's declaration states that the Executive Ethics Board thinks Gilbert has left his last known address and is trying to sell the property. "It appears that (Gilbert) has either left the state with intent to defraud his creditors, left the state to avoid service of summons, or is concealing himself within the state to avoid his creditors or avoid a service of summons," it continues.
No word yet on whether they've checked Chile.
Gilbert's trouble started back in 2008, when Evergreen was first implored to investigate his study-abroad program after a number of students failed to receive airline tickets they believed they'd purchased. The travel agency Gilbert had arranged their tickets through apparently went bankrupt. After looking into things, the school's auditor said Gilbert hadn't accounted for at least $50,000 in student payment, and the state auditor's office issued a fraud report in July 2009 that said the same thing.
Gilbert subsequently filed a lawsuit in Pierce County court contending that Evergreen's investigation failed to follow due process and that the school conspired to violate his civil rights and discriminated against him based on his national origin. The lawsuit also said Evergreen's investigation had defamed him both in Washington and Chile.
From The Olympian, circa 2009:
The report is fraught with supposition, speculation, false, inaccurate, and defamatory statements, and gossip," says a lawsuit that Gilbert recently filed against the college.
While it's impossible to say where Gilbert might be, it's not impossible to say where the Washington State Executive Ethics Board investigation that led to his massive fine (and subsequent disappearance) is.
Because it's below, and it's a pretty interesting read.