Published On: Wed, Nov 7th, 2012

Former St John’s dean, Cecilia Chang, commits suicide as she faces trial for stealing $1 million

Former St. John’s Dean Cecilia Chang, fought her way up from Taiwan in 1975 to head the major university, was found dead Tuesday.

Chang was  accused of stealing more than $1 million from the school and using foreign scholarship students as her personal servants, prosecutors said during a three-week trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

If the pressure was affecthing Chang, she showed no sign as she smiled and swore to tell the truth while in court.

Dr. Chang’s lawyers had tried to reach her on Tuesday, and when they could not, they called her son and suggested he call the police. He did, and officers entered the home and discovered her body.

In 2010, when Dr. Chang was arrested and charged in the case.

Prosecutors said she had used her position to recruit students to the school, promising them scholarships but threatening to expel them if they did not perform her household chores, including washing her underwear by hand.

They said she had created bank accounts in the students’ names, shuffling around tens of thousands of dollars that would ultimately end up in her pocket.

The government assembled a case so strong that Dr. Chang’s lawyers could hardly offer a defense in opening statements. She had taken the money, her lawyer said, but it was owed to her. The students had performed her chores, but not under duress.

What followed was a painful, shrieking, slow-motion disintegration of a woman who had been hugely successful as a fund-raiser and global ambassador for the only employer she had ever known.

Dr. Chang’s defense lawyers released a statement on Tuesday. “Cecilia Chang dedicated 30 years of her life to St. John’s University,” it said. “She was a prolific fund-raiser and tireless advocate for her beloved Asian Studies Program at the University. Her death today is a sad ending to a complex human drama.”

Dominic Scianna, a spokesman for the university, said: “St. John’s University was saddened to learn this morning of the death of Cecilia Chang. We ask the entire St. John’s community to pray for her and her family.”

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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