Former Delaware Public Officer Pleads Guilty in $3M Federal Bribery Case
WILMINGTON, Del. – David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Crystal Martin, former Associate Registrar at a Delaware public university, pled guilty in federal court today to a charge of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. Martin’s sentencing is scheduled for July 1, 2019 before the Honorable Richard G. Andrews, United States District Judge for the District of Delaware. Martin faces a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment.
According to court documents and statements made in open court, between 2013 and 2017, Martin accepted bribes from a co-conspirator in exchange for her agreement to change the registration status of hundreds of out-of-state students, thereby allowing students from outside of Delaware to qualify for in-state tuition. In furtherance of this scheme, Martin used forged residency documents prepared by her co-conspirator to enable these students to pay reduced tuition, when in fact, she knew they should be paying the higher tuition rate for out-of-state residents. Tuition for out-of-state students is over two times the rate for in-state students. The out-of-state students paid either Martin or her co-conspirator, for this fraudulent service, and Martin personally collected over $70,000 in bribe payments during the course of the scheme. The estimated cost to the university of reduced tuition payments during this four-year-period exceeded $3 million.
U.S. Attorney Weiss stated, “The defendant abused her position at a public university to personally profit and to defraud her employer. Individuals who accept bribes while serving in a public capacity risk undermining trust in those institutions. State universities have the right to offer benefits to in-state students in the form of reduced tuition; they also have the right to expect their employees to uphold and support their mission. And Delaware taxpayers have the right to expect honest services from our public employees – when those employees fall short of these expectations my office will hold them accountable.”
"Public corruption is a top criminal investigative priority for the FBI," said FBI Baltimore Acting Special Agent in Charge Jennifer L. Moore. "In public service, you have to uphold public trust. The FBI in Delaware will vigorously investigate any public servant who attempts to use their position to enrich themselves."
“I am proud of the work of the Office of Inspector General and our law enforcement partners in holding Ms. Martin accountable for her criminal actions,” said Geoffrey Wood, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Eastern Regional Office. “The OIG will continue to aggressively pursue those who misappropriate education funds for their own selfish purposes. America’s students and taxpayers deserve nothing less.”
This case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Education, and Delaware State Police, with assistance from the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura D. Hatcher and Whitney Cloud.