David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced Jan. 31 that Stephen Williams was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Andrews to 42 months’ incarceration for bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds.
Williams is the co-defendant of Crystal Martin, the Delaware State University administrator who pled guilty to the same bribery scheme in April 2019, and whose sentencing occurs in February.
According to court documents and statements made in open court, between 2013 and 2017, Williams was the leader of a bribery scheme at DSU. Williams recruited students to pay him a fee to change their student registration status from out-of-state residency to in-state residency. After students paid him their fee, Williams helped create forged residency documents, such as leases, and then delivered the forged documents to his co-defendant Martin to place in the students’ files, justifying the residency changes that Martin recorded in the university’s computer system.
Williams paid Martin a percentage of the fee he collected from each student whose residency was changed, amounting to approximately $70,000 over the course of four years. Williams also paid DSU students to recruit others interested in having their registration status changed. While the total amount that Williams profited from his scheme remains unknown, the estimated cost of reduced tuition payments of more than 250 students to DSU during this four-year-period exceeded $3 million.
“The defendant created and ran a four-year scheme that defrauded a Delaware public university,” said Weiss. “In so doing, he encouraged hundreds of people to break the law. Further, he deprived his own alma mater and Delaware taxpayers of the rightful tuition proceeds for Delaware State University so that he could personally profit. Defendants who repeatedly break the law for their own personal gain at the expense of Delaware citizens must be held accountable.”
“This defendant perpetuated a fraud, for his own personal gain, against the university, the state of Delaware, and those students who did not try to game the system,” said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone. “The FBI will pursue cases of injustice, such as this, until the perpetrator pays for the crime.”
“Williams knowingly and willfully defrauded America’s taxpayers and students in a deliberate and methodical way. With his prison sentence and this judgment, he is being held accountable for his criminal actions,” said Geoffrey Wood, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Eastern Regional Office. “I’m proud of the work of the Office of Inspector General and our law enforcement partners in this matter and continuing our work to protect Federal education funds from those who would use them for their own selfish purposes.”
This case was investigated by the FBI Baltimore-Wilmington Office, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General and Delaware State Police, with assistance from the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura D. Hatcher and Whitney C. Cloud.