Ex-DSU employee convicted on federal bribe charges

WILMINGTON — A former Delaware State University associate registrar was sentenced to 15 months incarceration for accepting tuition-related bribes, officials announced Thursday.

David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, cited court documents and statements that Crystal Martin between 2013 and 2017 accepted bribes from co-defendant Stephen Williams to change the registration status of hundreds of out-of-state students, falsely qualifying them for in-state tuition.

United States District Judge for the District of Delaware the Honorable Richard G. Andrews issued the sentence.

According to a news release, using forged residency documents prepared by her co-conspirator, Martin’s actions allowed these students to pay reduced tuition when she knew these students should be paying the higher rate for out-of-state residents.

The out-of-state students paid Williams for this fraudulent service, who in turn paid Martin, and during the scheme Martin personally collected thousands of dollars in bribe payments, officials said.

The loss to Delaware State University in reduced tuition payments during this four-year-period exceeded $3 million.

“The citizens of Delaware depend on public officials to perform their work honestly and to put the public interest first,” Mr. Weiss said. “The defendant did the opposite when she accepted bribe after bribe to change the registration status of out-of-state students and deprive a public institution of millions of dollars.

“How much she personally profited matters little. She sold out Delaware State University and the people of Delaware. With the help of our dedicated law enforcement partners, my office will continue to prosecute individuals who violate the public trust.”

According to Jennifer Boone, special agent heading the Baltimore Division of the FBI, “We look to our University leaders to stand for integrity and fairness, but the defendant violated that trust when she took part in this scheme to steal from the taxpayers of Delaware.

“Today’s sentence shows those actions have severe consequences and the FBI stands ready to hold accountable anyone who abuses the system for their own personal gain.”

Said Geoffrey Wood, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Easter Regional Office, “With today’s action, the two people who perpetrated this fraud scam not only against Delaware State University but America’s taxpayers have now been sentenced and held accountable for their fraudulent actions.

“I am proud of the contribution of OIG Special Agents and our law enforcement partners for their work in the case and commitment to protecting Federal education funds from such abuse.”

The case was investigated by the FBI Baltimore Division’s Wilmington Office, the United States Department of Education, and Delaware State Police, with assistance from the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Whitney C. Cloud and Laura D. Hatcher, according to the news release.