Sunday, May 16, 2021

Ex-Delgado official charged with taking student bribes for financial aid eligibility

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A former financial aid officer at Delgado Community College in New Orleans was charged this week with soliciting and accepting bribes from three students to ensure they were deemed eligible for financial aid.

Davin Thomas, 32, who lives and coaches youth basketball in Ponchatoula, was charged with a single federal bribery count in a bill of information.

Thomas was an assistant director of financial aid at Delgado’s City Park campus when he allegedly solicited the bribes from three students who sought financial aid between April 2014 and August 2016.

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According to the bill of information, the bribes to Thomas totaled $6,700.

A charge filed in a federal bill of information, rather than an indictment, often signals that a defendant is cooperating and is likely to enter a guilty plea.

Reached by phone Thursday, Thomas referred questions to his attorney, Shannon Battiste, who declined to respond directly to the allegations.

“He’s an upstanding citizen. He has no record of anything, not even a traffic infraction,” Battiste said of Thomas. “He’s a hard worker and he goes to work and provides for his family.”

Thomas’ Facebook page disappeared Thursday morning. It listed several prior jobs but not the Delgado position.

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Delgado officials did not immediately respond to a request for information about his employment there.

According to the bill of information, Thomas was responsible for “verifying information contained within student financial aid applications” and for “creating computer reports, which identified the students who were eligible for financial aid.”

Thomas faces a maximum 10-year prison term if he’s convicted on the charge. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General participated in the investigation.

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