Students walk past a sign for undergraduate admissions in Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

A New College Scam Appears, This One Bribes for In-State Tuition

(Bloomberg) -- A former Delaware State University official admitted she accepted more than $70,000 in bribes for giving students a break on their tuition as part of a scheme that cost the school an estimated $3 million, according to federal prosecutors.

Crystal Martin, a former registrar at the Dover-based school, pleaded guilty to a single felony count of bribery and faces as many as 10 years in prison for taking money to classify out-of-state students as eligible for in-state tuition over a four-year period, the U.S. said Wednesday.

The plea comes as the U.S. attorney in Boston separately prosecutes the biggest college admissions scam the Justice Department has ever taken on.

Non-Delaware residents attending the school pay more than twice the annual tuition residents do, according to DSU’s web site. For the current school year, that’s $16,904 versus $7,868. The school is one of the nation’s top-ranked historically black colleges and universities.

“The defendant abused her position at a public university to personally profit and to defraud her employer,’’ U.S. Attorney David Weiss said in a statement. “Individuals who accept bribes while serving in a public capacity risk undermining trust in those institutions.’’

Akin Adepoju, an assistant federal public defender who represents Martin, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on her plea. Carlos Holmes, a DSU spokesman, said Martin was an associate registrar at DSU until March 2017 and that the school wasn’t commenting on the case.

In the case out of Boston, the U.S. says 33 parents paid millions of dollars in bribes and fees for a test-taking surrogate to ace the SAT or ACT for their children, for university coaches to get the kids in as sports recruits, or both. Thirteen parents have pleaded guilty. Lawyers for 19 who’ve been indicted have begun to show some of the defenses they’re planning.

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