Skip to Content

Cecilia Chang handcuffed and sullen at Supreme Court arraignment

Cecilia Chang, former Dean of the Institute of Asian Studies and Vice President at St. John’s University, was arrested on Wednesday at her 15-room Jamaica Estates home and arraigned in Queens State Supreme Court Thursday on a 205-count indictment.

Chang appeared before Justice James P. Griffin with her hands cuffed behind her back. He ordered her held on $1 million bail. If convicted she could face up to 25 years in prison on charges that include grand larceny, forgery and falsification of business records.

The 57-year-old has been accused of embezzling at least $1 million from the university, with illegal activity going back to 2003. She is alleged to have used the money for lingerie, casino trips and to pay her son’s tuition bills.

According to Queens D.A. Richard A. Brown, Chang siphoned a $250,000 donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed into a bogus nonprofit organization that was essentially a piggy bank. The former dean then wired the money to China, where it was invested in stock.

Chang was allowed to grant 15 scholarships annually and reportedly turned that into a form of slave labor for recipients. She awarded most of the free tuition slots to overseas students who were told they must work at her home doing housekeeping and other chores 122 days per year in order to maintain their eligibility.

A civil lawsuit was also filed on Wednesday by the D.A.’s office, asking for a lien against Chang’s home. It is currently on the market for $2.88 million. A real estate listing indicates it has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, a gym, a sauna and a Jacuzzi tub. Neighbors indicate that she drives a Mercedes-Benz.

More photos below:

Photos: Ellis Kaplan – New York Post