CUNY Lecturer Charged With Running Fake Health Certificate Program

Dozens of students received the certificates of completion, though it was unclear how much money they paid Mr. Abdel-Sayed, who worked with at least one assistant. He charged fees ranging from $25 to more than $1,000 to each student, and he purchased enough office supplies between 2014 and 2017 to create more than 7,000 fraudulent certificates, according to a complaint filed.

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Document: Complaint Against CUNY Lecturer

The charges were announced by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, the New York State inspector general, and the federal Education Department’s Office of the Inspector General. A lawyer for Mr. Abdel-Sayed, Ryan G. Blanch, declined to comment.

The case represents the latest entanglement for CUNY, the largest public urban university in the country, as it confronts numerous outside investigations related to financial, management and personnel issues. In a separate federal inquiry, investigators are looking into the personal finances of Lisa S. Coico, the former president of the City College of New York, who resigned unexpectedly last October.

Investigators said that Mr. Abdel-Sayed, 68, of Kearny, N.J., told students his courses would save time and money; an official 200-hour class at CUNY to become a patient care technician, for example, costs $2,530. He also vouched for the authenticity of the documents, if questioned by employment agencies or others, the complaint said.

Mr. Abdel-Sayed also engaged in “unsanitary and risky procedures” in his class in drawing blood when he handed out needles and “suggested that students could attempt to draw blood from each other.”

Medgar Evers officials first heard about Mr. Abdel-Sayed’s classes in 2015, and ordered him to cease and desist. But he continued teaching them. Then, in January, two undercover investigators with the state inspector general’s office, posing as students, attended his classes and bought his certificates, and recorded their experience on audio and video.

By June, when Mr. Abdel-Sayed became aware of a criminal investigation, he tried to cover up his crimes, the authorities said, by telling the undercover investigators to “take the fifth” if they were asked about the classes.

He now faces five criminal counts, including fraud, corruption and obstruction of justice.

In a statement, Frank Sobrino, a CUNY spokesman, said: “Medgar Evers College and CUNY have cooperated fully throughout this investigation and we will continue to work with both offices as requested. We have no tolerance for anyone attempting to take advantage of our students, and we appreciate the work of the inspector general and the United States attorney and thank them for their swift and thorough response.”

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Source: New York Times

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