Columbia University Financial Aid Director Took $350,000 in Kickbacks From Students: Complaint – 4 New York
A former administrator at Columbia University and three students have been accused of running a financial aid kickback scheme that funneled more than $800,000 in stipends into their own pockets, according to law enforcement sources and a criminal complaint.
Melanie Williams-Bethea — who sources said was a financial aid director at the university until 2017 — was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery and student aid fraud, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday. Three students, Annice Kpana, Carmen Canty and Kyla Thomas, were also arrested on bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges. All four were cuffed Thursday.
The complaint alleges that Williams-Bethea funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the three students between 2013 and 2017, inflating their cost-of-attendance figures on forms in years where they weren’t enrolled in any courses so they could obtain large stipends. In turn, according to the complaint, they paid her back with kickbacks in tens of thousands of dollars — sometimes including “love” or “Thank you!” in the memo line of personal checks.