Ex-Columbia University official sentenced in aid scam

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Columbia University official has been sentenced to over three years in prison for accepting kickbacks from unqualified students to help them secure financial aid.

Melanie Williams-Bethea was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District in Manhattan to three years and four months in prison.

She had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in October. She is the former director of financial aid at Teachers College at Columbia.

Two former Teachers College students were previously sentenced to prison terms.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the defendants collectively pocketed over $2 million.

Prosecutors said the bribery and kickback scheme had lasted for years.

Two more former students are due to be sentenced later this month.

Tuesday’s sentencing comes just after dozens of prominent parents were charged in an unrelated scam to get their children into college.

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