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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Former Morris Brown President pleads guilty

The former president of Morris Brown College pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling federal funds that were intended to cover student tuition.

Delores Cross, 69, who was president of the college from November 1998 until February 2002, entered the plea in front of U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes at a morning hearing.

Monday's plea agreement dismisses 27 other counts Cross was facing in connection with the case. Had she gone to trial on the single count to which she pleaded guilty, Cross could have faced up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Instead, prosecutors are asking that Cross receive a recommended sentence of 10 to 16 months in prison. Her attorneys indicted in court that they would seek a lesser sentence of zero to six months because of an undisclosed medical condition.

The prosecution and defense agreed she will pay $11,000 in restitution.

Parvesh Singh, former director of financial aid and enrollment services for Morris Brown College, pleaded guilty last week to one count of theft of federal financial aid funds, admitting to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from unwitting students and the government.

As part of the plea agreement, Singh, 64, had been expected to testify against Cross.

He pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining more than $92,000 using the names of students who did not the meet the requirements for full-time enrollment or never attended classes.

Under a December 2004 federal indictment, Singh faced 34 counts of fraud. The remaining counts will be dismissed as part of the agreement. According to a December 2004 indictment, Singh and Cross fraudulently obtained $3.4 million in federally insured student loans and Pell grants to cover in part a $3.3 million credit debt and school expenses.

Singh's attorneys emphasized he did not directly benefit from the stolen funds.

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