WASHINGTON -- Samuel Riley Pierce Jr., a noted lawyer and public official whose career was marred at its end by an investigation of mismanagement and influence-peddling during his service as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Reagan administration, died Oct. 31 at Holy Cross Hospital outside Washington of complications from a stroke. He was 78.
Although he was never charged with a crime, Pierce said in 1995 that his "own conduct failed to set the proper standard" during the eight years he headed HUD.
Pierce was the only African American to serve in President Reagan's Cabinet.
He maintained that any abuses that occurred were the fault of subordinates who acted without his knowledge.
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