Morris Brown College officials in Atlanta are being mum about the recent indictment of their former president and financial aid director.
Dr. Dolores Cross, who now teaches at DePaul University in Illinois, and her financial aid director Parvesh Singh face a total of 34 indictments in an alleged $5 million fraud scheme using student loans. Authorities say Cross and Singh unlawfully obtained loans from the U.S. Department of Education in the names of former students or students who never attended Morris Brown.
U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, who brought the charges against Cross and Singh, said the fraud involved students who never went to Morris Brown College, applied to other schools and ran into problems because they were told they were in default on student loans. Those students are reportedly now dealing with damaged credit or difficulty obtaining financial aid, Nahmias said.
According to the indictment, Cross increased spending at the school by $8 million in her first year, partly by giving herself extra staffers, speech writers and housekeepers. To cover the extra expenses, the federal government charges that Singh got $3.4 million worth of ineligible loans. When education officials cut him off, Singh then got his staff to obtain another $980,000 worth of ineligible loans.
Phone calls to lawyers representing Cross and Singh were not immediately returned.
Getchel Caldwell, vice president for institutional advancement at Morris Brown, said, "We're using the statement from the chairman of the board of trustees. Our attorneys have advised us not to get into the fray of all this."
Caldwell's office also released two hotline phone numbers for concerned parents and students to call. Both numbers rang to a message box, which remained full on the day they were called.
James E. Young, chairman of the Morris Brown College board of trustees, did not immediately return phone calls from Black Issues In Higher Education. But on the day the indictments were handed down, Young issued a statement, saying, "Morris Brown College officials have been cooperating with federal authorities since this investigation began two years ago, and we will continue to be cooperative. We are grateful for the work of the U.S. Attorney's office and we are eager to bring closure to this matter.
"We are extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support from all the constituents of the college in supporting the restoration of Morris Brown College," he said.
In addition, college officials are seriously discussing selling the school to nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner, his representatives said earlier this month.
Joyner, whose foundation donated $1 million to the college last year to help returning students pay outstanding balances so that they could continue their education at Morris Brown, has made multiple offers to buy the beleaguered historically Black college over the past two years, but school leaders had rebuffed his offers. …