A former dean of Frederick Community College has been indicted on charges of illegally obtaining $156,000 in state school aid for his college by padding student enrollment lists, billing the state twice for the same courses that were never held.
Patrick Leo Christoff, who served as the college's dean of continuing education until his dismissal last month, was specifically indicted Monday by an Anne Arundel County grand jury on charges of using false pretenses to obtain the funds from Maryland's Board of Community Colleges.
All of the funds allegedly obtained by false pretense during the last two years were placed in the college's general fund and have already been spent according to the college dean, Carl Mitlehner, who said the school cannot afford to repay the money and continue operations.
Cristoff was described by one former colleague as an energetic professor whose success in building up the continuing education program made him a rising star at the college.
Christoff, who is described as being in his mid-30s, could not be reached for comment.
His indictment Monday resulted from a six-month-long investigation by Maryland State Police. Acting Gov. Blair Lee III had authorized the investigation after learning of findings by the college's auditor that state aid apparently was being obtained without justification.
Maryland attorney General Francis B. Burch, who steered the state police probe, said the investigation will continue but declined to give details. A spokesman for Burch said the college eventually would have to repay the $156,000, but he emphasized that "we have a keen interest in seeing the college function."
Maryland's community colleges receive $800 a year in state aid for each student who completes a 30-hour course load. The money is allotted by the state's Board of Community Colleges, which is funded by the General Assemble. The colleges also receive money from their county governing bodies.
he Christoff indictment was handed down in Anne Arndel County because the state board is located in Annapolis. It was there that it received the allegedly deceptive reports concerning the number of students in Frederick College classes.
The 12-count indictment charges that Christoff obtained $39,500 from the board by billing it twice for the same college course. Investigative sources said he is specifically accused of allegedly reporting the same course under different names and a different description while using the same names students.
Another $37,000 was obtained for the school, according to the indictment, when Christoff submitted reports for nonacademic courses that allegedly would not have been eligible for state aid until they were "falsely described" by Christoff.
Christoff also was accused of obtaining nearly $33,000 for the college by improperly submitting as students the names of persons who participated in civic club and professional society meetings at the school.