September 15, 2010; Source: New York Daily News | According to prosecutors, a fundraiser for St. John’s University in New York City apparently believed in the saying, “If you’re going to steal, steal big.” Cecilia Chang, who previously had served as both dean of the Institute of Asian Studies and vice president for international relations, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with stealing $1 million.
Prosecutors allege that Chang, who worked for St. John’s for 30 years, used the money for casino trips, clothing purchases, and to pay her son’s tuition. Among the ways prosecutors say Chang stole funds include directly pocketing $250,000 donated to the school from billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud as well as hiding payments on her expense reports for what the New York Daily News describes as “everyday items ranging from clothing to her television bill.” The paper also reports that Chang allegedly used a university-issued credit card to pay her son’s tuition for St. John’s Law School, and this was after the school denied him a scholarship.
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Although only arrested this week, the university suspended Chang last January after auditors questioned travel and entertainment expenses, and then fired her six months later. Chang’s lawyers predicted all charges against her would be dismissed. Claiming his client’s innocence, Todd Greenberg said, “Every dime that this woman spent was spent on behalf of St. John’s University, entertaining the people who St. John’s University told her to entertain. That was her job.”— Bruce Trachtenberg