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Update: Florida A&M University is putting a controversial $237 million donation on hold amid skepticism from alumni who question the validity of the donor.

The record-breaking donation was presented to FAMU during Saturday’s commencement ceremony at the Al Lawson Center.

Gregory Gerami, CEO of Batterson Farms Corp., wore a face mask and rushed through his keynote address.

The 30-year-old hemp farmer then handed an oversized check to FAMU President Larry Robinson.

The donation is the single largest gift to an HBCU and nearly doubled the university’s current endowment of $160 million.

On Thursday, Robinson announced the university would “pause” the donation until the board can convene next week.

“With regards to the gift and the processing of it … We’ve already decided that it is in our best interest to put that on pause,” Robinson said.

FAMU officials held an emergency FAMU Foundation Board meeting on Thursday. The meeting was broadcast to the public on Zoom.

Some members of the board said they didn’t know about the donation until Sunday afternoon, which they said is “problematic.”

The Palm Beach Post reported that “discussions” about the donation were in the works for 6 months.

FAMU Foundation Executive Director Shawnta Friday-Stroud was involved in all of the discussions with Gerami over that time period.

Friday-Stroud claims she didn’t tell the board about the donation because she signed an NDA that prevents her from explaining the details of the gift.

She told the Tallahassee Democrat that stocks worth $237,750,000 were transferred to FAMU Foundation’s account.

She added that the university holds “certificates” for those stocks. But skeptics say the privately held stocks are worthless.

FAMU’s alumni expressed disappointment that Ms. Friday-Stroud did not conduct a thorough investigation into Gerami’s background.

During six months of discussions with Gerami, Ms. Friday-Stroud never contacted Carolina Coastal University about his $95 million donation that fell through.

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Gerami also pledged tens of millions in donations to Miles College and The University of Texas at Austin that never materialized.

Like FAMU, Gerami has no connection to CCU, but he was reportedly dating someone with the university at the time.

Gerami accused a CCU official of making racist and disrespectful remarks toward him before he cut ties with the university. That official is no longer employed at the university.

“I have no ill feelings toward Coastal,” Gerami told the Myrtle Beach Sun News. “I just think we were doing too much and weren’t dating long enough to be spending that kind of money on dates, if that makes any sense.”

Howard University alum Jerelle Blakeley criticized FAMU officials in his article, published on May 6, titled “For the Love of Money, Has FAMU been Fooled?”

A quick Google search by Blakeley turned up troubling information about the would-be billionaire.

“A little more digging shows that Gerami served time in prison for an assault charge in 2022 and has a $1,500 judgment,” Blakeley wrote. “He has $237 million for FAMU and can’t pay a $1500 judgement?”

Blakeley suggested that Friday-Stroud and other FAMU officials should step down if Gerami’s donation is a scam.

“But if this turns out to be a scam, the entire university leadership should resign for a massive lack of vetting,” he said.

A commenter wrote:

“[UT Austin] at least had the good sense to tell [Gerami] to take a hike after they dug into him a bit. His most recent attempt with CCU imploded almost certainly because they realized (too late) that they’d been had. The ensuing scandal there cost a bunch of people their jobs. This will almost certainly end the same way for FAMU.”