Cooperation may get UNC prof absolved of fraud charge
Posted June 23, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Dr. Julius Nyang'oro, who faces a fraud charge for collecting payment for a class that never met at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is cooperating with an investigation there, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Monday. That cooperation has Woodall considering dropping the charge against Nyang'oro, the former head of the UNC Department of African and Afro-American Studies.
A grand jury indicted Nyang'oro, 59, of 9 Wickersham Drive in Durham, on a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretense. Investigators say he accepted $12,000 for teaching a summer school course in 2011, but no lectures were ever held.
He resigned in August as chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, which was at the center of an investigation into academic fraud involving Tar Heel football players. Since that time, Rashad McCants, a former Tar Heel basketball player, made claims that he, too, was registered for classes he never attended and had papers written for him.
Woodall said Nyang’oro has provided "invaluable information" to Ken Wainstein, the former federal prosecutor hired in February to conduct the latest in a series of probes into the relationship between the Af-Am department and student-athletes. The pair have met at least three times, Woodall said.
Nyang'oro pleaded not guilty to the fraud charge in December and was released on a $30,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for Tuesday morning. A fraud conviction carries a potential sentence of up to 30 months in prison, but authorities have said it's more likely Nyang'oro would get probation.
An internal investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin revealed that any academic irregularities at UNC were concentrated in Nyang'oro's department and dated to about 1994. Martin found no anomalies outside of that department and no specific link between the scandal and student-athletes.