Delaware State University official pleads guilty to taking $70G in bribes from out-of-state students

A former Delaware State University official on Wednesday admitted to accepting more than $70,000 in bribes to falsely classify students as eligible to pay in-state tuition over a four-year period.

Crystal Martin, who worked for the registrar’s office at the Dover-based historically black institution, pleaded guilty to a felony bribery charge, authorities said. The scheme cost the school more than $3 million in lost tuition.

“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.’’

“The defendant abused her position at a public university to personally profit and to defraud her employer. Individuals who accept bribes while serving in a public capacity risk undermining trust in those institutions.’’

— U.S. Attorney David Weiss 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not name the school Martin worked for, but her LinkedIn profile said she worked at Delaware State. A spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg that Martin worked for the school until 2017.

News of the scam comes amid a college admissions scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Federal prosecutors allege that those facing charges paid millions of dollars in bribes and fees for test takers and university coaches to get their kids admitted to elite universities.

Crystal Martin's bribery scheme cost Delaware State University more than $3 million in lost tuition, authorities say. (LinkedIn)

Crystal Martin's bribery scheme cost Delaware State University more than $3 million in lost tuition, authorities say. (LinkedIn)

The students in the Delaware case were already admitted to the school, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The scheme spanned from 2013 to 2017, prosecutors said. Martin accepted bribes from an unnamed co-conspirator to forge residency documents for hundreds of out-of-state students to allow them to qualify for cheaper in-state tuition.

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For the 2018-19 school year, tuition for out-of-state students was $16,094, compared with $7,868 for Delaware residents, according to the school's website.

Martin faces up to 10 years in prison. She is scheduled for sentencing July 1.