A former vice president and New York City university dean allegedly forced students to cook for her at her Queens home, wash clothes, bring her money at a casino and drive her family around, among other menial chores, or lose their scholarships, authorities say.
While an administrator at St. John's University with the authority to grant scholarships, Cecilia Chang also told the students to whom she awarded money that she'd revoke the gifts if they didn't take out the garbage, shovel snow or complete other household chores, according to an affidavit released this week.
"Chang threatened the students and placed them in fear that if they refused to perform these personal services, they would lose their scholarships and be unable to attend St. John's," FBI Special Agent Kenneth F. Hosey said in the affidavit.
Chang was suspended without pay from her post in January, the university said in a statement. University officials fired her six months later.
"The University expects all of its employees to conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards, reflecting the mission and values that were the basis for our founding 140 years ago," St. John's University officials said in a statement. "If these allegations by federal authorities are true, Ms. Chang’s treatment of some students and the environment she created are shocking and in complete violation of all this University stands for."
Chang allegedly used her position to take advantage of the school beyond its student body. An indictment last month accuses her of siphoning $1 million from St. John's to pay for jaunts at casinos, dining out, shopping sprees and her son's graduate education.
Chang's attorney, Todd Greenburg, vehemently denies his client did anything wrong.
"Every dime this woman spent was spent on behalf of St. John’s University, entertaining the people St. John’s University told her to entertain," Greenburg told The New York Times.