Prosecutors Tuesday accused a former St. John's University administrator of using foreign students on work-study as her household "servants" as the fraud trial of one-time fundraiser and dean of Asian studies Cecilia Chang began in Brooklyn federal court.
"She betrayed the very students she was supposed to mentor," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lan Nguyen in her opening statement to the jury, telling the panel that Chang threatened to have the students deported if they didn't perform menial tasks that included serving as her chauffeur, cleaning her house and even washing her underwear.
Chang, 59, of Jamaica Estates, Queens, is accused in a 10-count indictment of forced labor violations for misusing the students, and stealing money from St. John's to pay for shopping sprees, international travel and her son's law school tuition. She is also charged with lying to FBI agents and with tax violations.
Her lawyer told jurors that Chang, who worked at the college's Jamaica campus, needed to live large to impress potential donors as the university's international ambassador, and all her spending and use of the students ultimately was designed to benefit the school.
The trial resumes Wednesday.