USC Picks Lawyer With History of Representing University to Head Independent Investigation of Dean Scandal

Debra Wong Yang is used to taking on headline-grabbing scandals.

Then-USC Keck School of Medicine Dean Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito arrives at the Second-Annual Rebels With A Cause Gala at Paramount Studios on March 20, 2014, in Hollywood. (Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Then-USC Keck School of Medicine Dean Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito arrives at the Second-Annual Rebels With A Cause Gala at Paramount Studios on March 20, 2014, in Hollywood. (Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

She was one of five attorneys New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hired to examine his involvement in a scandal over closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge to punish a political rival. After the investigation cleared Christie, a federal judge criticized the attorneys for “opacity and gamesmanship” in not preserving complete records of the interviews they conducted.

When the city of Vernon was rocked by a series of public corruption scandals, it turned to Yang, at $990 an hour, to examine whether voters from outside the city were casting ballots in an effort to take over the City Council. One by one, she decided whether 64 voters who cast ballots in a city council election were legally eligible residents of the city. Her rulings changed the outcome of the race, putting into office a candidate supported by the Vernon Chamber of Commerce and some city leaders.

Now, the University of Southern California has turned to Yang, a former U.S. attorney and L.A. County Superior Court judge, to investigate questions about what its leaders knew and when about the conduct of former medical school dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.