Former University of the District of Columbia president Robert L. Green pleaded not guilty yesterday to the eight-count indictment that charges him with fraud, theft and five counts of lying to a federal grand jury investigating expenditures from discretionary funds controlled by the D.C. mayor's office.
Green, an administrator at Cuyahoga County Community College near Cleveland, made no statements during the hearing before U.S. District Judge Norma H. Johnson and did not talk with reporters afterward. He previously has denied any wrongdoing.
Defense attorney R. Kenneth Mundy entered the pleas on Green's behalf during the brief hearing. Mundy, who has replaced attorney John F. Mercer in the case, said in court that he was brought in late last week. Johnson set another hearing for Nov. 23 to allow Mundy to familiarize himself with the case before she sets deadlines for legal motions and selects a trial date.
Mercer said after the court appearance that he was withdrawing from the case because he might be called as a witness in any eventual trial, but would not elaborate.
"I anticipate this case will go to trial," Mundy said during an impromptu news conference. Asked how he viewed the charges against Green, Mundy said, "It looks like any awful lot of to-do about nothing."
In the indictment returned on Oct. 28, Green was charged with obtaining money from Mayor Marion Barry's ceremonial fund and Mini Art Gallery Fund to cover the costs of a $2,000 big-screen projection television and a $1,400 stereo system while he was UDC president.
According to the indictment, Green arranged with Dwight S. Cropp, who at the time was serving simultaneously as a UDC vice president and secretary of the District of Columbia, to get the funds. In return, the indictment alleges, Green promised that the equipment would remain in the university-owned presidential residence.
Instead, Green allegedly took the items with him when he left the residence two years ago after resigning as UDC president amid allegations that he had misused UDC funds.
Cropp, now a top aide to Barry, is expected to be the main prosecution witness against Green.
Less than a week after Green's indictment, Robert B. Robinson, Barry's former administrative assistant, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor theft charges arising from Robinson's using $1,500 from the mayor's ceremonial fund to make payments on a fur coat Barry bought his wife.
Robinson subsequently repaid the account with his own funds and Barry has said he reimbursed Robinson for the amount.