Witnesses Accuse Ex St. John’s Dean of Fraud and Forced Labor


Another former St. John’s student testified Tuesday that the disgraced dean of Asian Studies made her wash her underwear and prepare dinner or lose her scholarship.

Another witness said that the dean, Cecilia Chang, had her falsify documents in order to defraud the university of unwarranted expenses.

The testimony came in the Brooklyn Federal Court trial of Chang, charged in a 10-count indictment with embezzlement and forced labor.

“There weren’t any days that no housekeepers worked, the calendar on the fridge always told them who was going to work,” testified Jing Zhou regarding Chang and her son Steven.

Chang had three student housekeepers working for her and her son Steven seven days a week during Fall 2009 in their Jamaica Estates home, the indictment charges.

The students were required to do 20 hours a week of university service in order to keep their scholarship.

Zhou testified that her duties included cooking, cleaning, and buying groceries.

Zhou also recalled going to bed at 3 a.m. after fulfilling her duties for the night, waking up at 6 a.m. to iron the dean’s pants and making her breakfast despite having a 9 a.m. class.

With the help of a translator Zhou recalled an e-mail she sent to a school official to complain about the work she did for Chang in June 2010. Each scholarship recipient was required to work a total of 122 days, Zhou says she worked for 186 days from May 14th 2009 to June 27th, 2010.

Zhou added she worked for Chang even after the dean had been fired by the university.

“I didn’t know what had happened at that point,” said Zhou.

Prosecutors say that Chang submitted almost $1 million in fraudulent expense statements that she used to buy lingerie, trips to the casinos repairs to her Mercedes, ski trips for her son, online dating service subscriptions, a $1,300 dinner at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Taiwan restaurant and her son’s tuition bills.

A second witness on Tuesday, St. John’s student Min Yen, testified that she was instructed by Chang to

create spreadsheets and expense accounts aimed at disguising Chang’s unauthorized purchases as legitimate expenses.

As Yen testified Chang smiled, shook her head and reapplied her lip-gloss.




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