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UC Berkeley manager demoted over improper raises to worker she had sexual relationship with

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POSTED March 12, 2012 7:55 p.m.

BERKELEY (AP) — The University of California, Berkeley, has demoted and reduced the salary of a veteran administrator accused of improperly giving pay raises to an employee with whom she was having a sexual relationship.

Diane Leite, 47, a former assistant vice chancellor in the Research Enterprise Services department, pushed through five raises in two years for Jonathan Caniezo, the San Jose Mercury News reported Monday.

Caniezo, a 30-year-old purchasing manager, saw his pay rise from less than $70,000 in 2007 to more than $110,000 in 2010, according to university records obtained by the newspaper.

Caniezo's direct supervisor had opposed the raises, arguing that he had not earned them, according to a report by school investigators.

"Leite's ongoing romantic relationship with (Caniezo) more likely than not provided the underlying motivation for her support of this salary action, despite (the supervisor's) disagreement with it," investigators wrote.

After investigators found that Leite violated the university's sexual harassment policy, she was demoted March 1 from her position as assistant vice chancellor. Her pay was cut from about $188,000 to $175,000, according to a Feb. 17 letter from Vice Chancellor Graham Fleming.

State Sen. Leland Yee, a frequent critic of executive compensation at California's public universities, said Leite's pay should have been cut more dramatically.

"Here you have an administrator who crossed the line, and the only thing she gets is a slap on the wrist," said Yee, D-San Francisco. "At the same time, student fees are going up. That's why UC has no credibility."

UC officials said the rapid increase in Caniezo's pay was justified given the "explosive growth" in the office's size and responsibilities. They also defended disciplinary actions taken against Leite.

"The disciplinary action was quite substantial," Fleming wrote, "involving significant reductions in salary, job classification and title, as well as removal of all supervisory responsibilities."

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