Charges: Columbia U. exec took kickbacks, gave financial aid

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities say a former Columbia University official carried out a decades-long scheme that dished out hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid in exchange for kickbacks from unqualified students.

Melanie Williams-Bethea was arrested Thursday along with three other defendants.

In a criminal complaint, authorities said Williams-Bethea worked as director of financial aid at one of the university's graduate schools while carrying out the scam from 2008 to 2017.

It says one student received nearly $1 million in stipends, scholarships and loans over a period of years — not all of it legitimately.

It says the school fired her after discovering the alleged wrongdoing.

A message requesting comment from Columbia was not immediately returned. It was not immediately clear who will represent Williams-Bethea in Manhattan federal court.