Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ex-Yalie takes plea deal in fraud case

By Randall Beach
Register Staff
— A Yale student who was expelled after defrauding the university has pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny, and may by able to avoid prison time if he pays back Yale in full.
Akash Maharaj, 26, did not advance his plan of seeking accelerated rehabilitation May 28 when he failed to appear in New Haven Superior Court. Judge Richard Damiani promptly ordered him re-arrested.
Under accelerated rehabilitation, a defendant is put on probation for up to two years, during which time he performs community service or other duties. If he completes the requirements, charges are dismissed.
Damiani May 28 said it was “convenient” that Maharaj had gone into a hospital rather than appear in court. But two days later, Maharaj and his attorney, Glenn Conway, appeared before Damiani and Maharaj made the guilty plea.
Maharaj pleaded under the Alford doctrine, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes the state has enough evidence to get a conviction. It results in a finding of guilt.
The larceny charge stems from the allegation he stole $31,750 from Yale in financial aid. Under the agreement worked out with Damiani, Maharaj must pay back that amount over the next three months, said Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Maxine Wilensky.
“Judge Damiani has indicated he will not have to go to prison if he pays it in full,” Wilensky said.
Asked if Maharaj has the means to come up with the money, Wilensky said, “Supposedly he has an uncle who is willing to put forth the money. But I have seen no proof of this.”
Conway said Tuesday he will not comment on the case.
State’s Attorney Michael Dearington said Tuesday the maximum fine for first-degree larceny, a class B felony, is 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Dearington said it’s unlikely the state will pursue other charges pending against Maharaj, second-degree forgery and criminal violation of a restraining order, because he pleaded guilty to larceny. Last October Maharaj pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
The restraining order allegation arose from a dispute Maharaj had with his then-boyfriend, also a Yale student. Court documents showed Yale University police last June were called by that student, who reportedly said Maharaj had threatened to kill him because he wanted to end their relationship.
That student reportedly told a Yale associate dean that Maharaj’s biographical details were open to question. For starters, Maharahj had admitted to him he was 26, not 21, as he claimed earlier.
Yale officials investigated and, according to court documents, discovered he had not attended Columbia University in years he’d claimed, nor had he gotten straight As there as stated in a fake transcript. A Columbia recommendation reportedly also was found to be bogus. Yale officials then expelled him.
Maharaj, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, has a permanent residence in New York City. Damiani set the sentencing date for Sept. 5.
Randall Beach can be reached at or 789-5766.

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