Former University of the District of Columbia president Robert L. Green was indicted here yesterday on charges of fraud, theft and five counts of lying to a federal grand jury investigating expenditures from special funds controlled by the D.C. mayor's office.
The charges against Green arise from the purchase, allegedly through several secret transactions, of a stereo system and big-screen television for Green while he was UDC president; his allegedly taking the equipment when he left the post, and his testimony about the entire matter during a two-hour appearance before a grand jury on Aug. 14.
Green, who resigned as UDC president two years ago after allegations that he misused university funds, is the first among current and former high-ranking District officials to be indicted as a result of the continuing probe of the mayor's office special accounts. Sources have said federal authorities are seeking to determine whether other District officials, including Mayor Marion Barry, misused funds from the accounts.
According to the 25-page indictment issued last night, the purchases of the $1,399 stereo system and the $1,995 television were covered, at one point in the series of transactions, by funds controlled by the mayor's office.
Money for the stereo came from an account intended to underwrite expenses of the so-called mini-art gallery in Barry's office, and money for the television was provided from the mayor's ceremonial fund, according to the indictment.
The most damaging testimony against Green apparently comes from Dwight S. Cropp, a top Barry aide and the former secretary of the District who for a time served as a university vice president under Green. In each of the five charges of lying to the grand jury, the panel appears to have relied upon Cropp's version of events, which are corroborated with evidence such as appointment books, sources said.
The indictment, which is the first public acknowledgement of the grand jury investigation of the mayor's funds, states that the probe includes, but is not limited to, the mayor's ceremonial fund and the mini-art gallery fund.
A city spokesman said last night that the gallery fund was abolished about three years ago, but could provide no details on its size.
Green, now an administrator at Cuyahoga County Community College in Cleveland, denied any wrongdoing yesterday in a telephone interview. "It is absolutely untrue," he said of the charges. "I have never taken anything . . . from the University of the District of Columbia or any other agency."
"There was no fraud on my part, there was no theft, and I don't believe I made any false statements to the grand jury . . . . I believe I will be vindicated," Green said.
The charges, which were presented to the grand jury by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bernstein, carry a maximum of 50 years in prison and fines of more than $500,000 upon conviction.
John F. Mercer, Green's attorney, said last night, "Green's position is he is not guilty of any wrongdoing or any impropriety, not even a misdemeanor. That's our position based on all of the facts we've seen. We're going to let 12 people decide. We're not looking to make any kind of deal. We're not begging for mercy."
The two purchases of electronic equipment took place within months after Green became UDC president in July 1983.
Green initially asked officials in charge of UDC's development fund -- the UDC Fund Inc. -- for a loan to cover the cost of a stereo, the officials have said. Green said he would repay the loan with income from public speaking honoraria and donate the stereo to the university-owned president's residence at 3520 Rittenhouse St. NW, according to the officials.
Green obtained the loan and repaid it in full shortly thereafter, when officials of the fund pressed him for repayment, UDC officials said.
According to the indictment, Green went to Cropp in October 1983, and asked Cropp to use money from the mayor's office to reimburse the UDC Fund for the stereo, a Sansui system that included a tape deck.
Green allegedly told Cropp that a "controversy" about the purchase had developed, and said that if Cropp used money from the mayor's office to reimburse the UDC Fund that Green would later transfer money from UDC to the mayor's office.
Green asked Cropp to provide the money in cash, so the UDC Fund wouldn't know about the arrangements, and Green promised that if the transactions took place, he would leave the stereo in the presidential residence.
According to the indictment, Green gave the UDC Fund a personal check for $1,399 on Oct. 11, 1983, telling officials that it was his repayment for the stereo, which would then be his property.
Two days later, Cropp took money from the Mini-Art Gallery Fund and gave Green $1,400 in cash, according to the indictment.
The indictment describes a similar scenario for the purchase of a Hitachi big-screen projection television the next month, but in that case the purchase was made outright with money from the mayor's ceremonial fund, with promises that Green would transfer money to cover the expense from UDC.
Green then took the stereo and television with him when he left UDC's official residence in November 1985, later placed the equpment in storage here and had ordered a moving company to prepare it for shipment to his new home in Ohio. The equipment was seized by the FBI in May, according to sources.
The indictment charges that in his August testimony before the grand jury Green lied when he swore under oath that: He didn't know the money Cropp provided came from city funds, but that he believed the money came from a private fund controlled by banker Jeffrey N. Cohen. He told Cropp he would personally make reimbursement for the stereo. He didn't tell Cropp what kind of television to purchase. He met with Cropp to see what to do about the equipment after Green moved out of the presidential residence. He hadn't decided to take the stereo and television with him to Ohio even when he sent the equipment into storage in February 1987.
Cropp, who declined comment on the indictment, has given associates an account of Green's activities that directly contradicts Green's testimony.
According to the associates, Cropp has said that Green never proposed using his own funds to repay the mayor's office for the items.
Sources said that city records, apparently from Cropps' office, do not support Green's claim to the grand jury that he attempted to meet with Cropp to discuss the disposition of the items after Green left the University.
District officials also said they have no evidence of any fund controlled by Cohen, a close friend of Barry.
Cropp has told associates that he agreed to Green's request because he and Barry wanted to support Green in the transition at UDC. It was unclear why Cropp apparently did not object to Green's request that the transactions be kept secret from UDC officials.Staff writers Sharon LaFraniere and Tom Sherwood contributed to this report.