FORMER SOUTHERN UNION STATE PRESIDENT CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTION IN POSTSECONDARY INVESTIGATION AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY
BIRMINGHAM, AL - JOANNE JORDAN, 66, of Ashland, was charged with obstruction of justice in a Criminal Information filed late yesterday in U.S. District Court. JORDAN, a long-time employee of Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC) in Opelika, Alabama, most recently served as SUSCC's interim President from July of 2002 until June 1, 2006. During her employment with SUSCC, she reported directly to Roy Johnson, both when he was President of SUSCC and later as Chancellor of Postsecondary Education.
(Media-Newswire.com) - BIRMINGHAM, AL - JOANNE JORDAN, 66, of Ashland, was charged with obstruction of justice in a Criminal Information filed late yesterday in U.S. District Court. JORDAN, a long-time employee of Southern Union State Community College ( SUSCC ) in Opelika, Alabama, most recently served as SUSCC's interim President from July of 2002 until June 1, 2006. During her employment with SUSCC, she reported directly to Roy Johnson, both when he was President of SUSCC and later as Chancellor of Postsecondary Education.
The Criminal Information charges JORDAN with obstruction of justice as a result of false testimony she gave to a federal grand jury sitting in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 24, 2006. JORDAN later recanted her false testimony. JORDAN has also agreed to plead guilty to an Alabama state ethics law violation, a felony in State Court.
"Lesson for the day - do not lie to a federal grand jury," stated U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin.
A signed Plea Agreement also filed late yesterday outlined the following facts:
While JORDAN served as the interim President of SUSCC, then Chancellor Roy Johnson devised a plan to facilitate the retirement of SUSCC's Dean of Nursing ( Dean ). Johnson had promoted the Dean to that position when he was President of SUSCC and he had a close relationship with her.
When JORDAN became interim President, the Dean approached JORDAN and stated that she would be willing to retire immediately, but could not do so unless "some service time" was bought from a previous job. The Dean told JORDAN, and JORDAN told Chancellor Johnson, that, if SUSCC would pay the cost of purchasing the time, she would retire and leave the campus. The cost of the Dean's service time was approximately $24,000.
In order to facilitate the Dean's retirement and exit from SUSCC, Johnson instructed Winston Hayes, the owner of ACCESS - a computer software vendor, to pay for the Dean's service time. Johnson instructed Hayes submit a false invoice to SUSCC to cover the costs, and then Johnson instructed JORDAN to pay the false invoice.
When JORDAN received the fraudulent invoice from ACCESS, it was more than twice as much as the Dean's service time had cost, so she contacted Johnson. He instructed Jordan to pay the fraudulent invoice, and to certify that software had been delivered. ACCESS Group Software, LLC received a check for $48,000 from SUSCC. Hayes used the excess money paid his company, ACCESS, to benefit himself and Johnson, with whom he was engaged in a bribery-kickback scheme. When asked in the grand jury whether the Chancellor had told her to pay a fraudulent invoice, JORDAN testified, falsely, that he had not.
Winston Hayes, owner of ACCESS Group Software, LLC has previously been charged in connection with this investigation, and has agreed to plead guilty to bribery and conspiracy to launder money. ACCESS will forfeit $5 million received as profit over the course of four years of illegal activity relating to the Postsecondary colleges.
Johnson has previously been charged with 15 counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, obstruction, witness tampering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He has agreed to plead guilty and to forfeit approximately $18 million for his illegal activity relating to the Postsecondary colleges.
JORDAN also admits, in her Plea Agreement, that from April 2004 until November 2005, while she served as interim President of SUSCC, she received free architectural services from an architect who did business with SUSCC. After learning of the federal investigation, JORDAN paid the architect approximately $3500 for services rendered to her.
JORDAN further admits that at Johnson's direction, from December 2003 through May 2006, she hired Johnson's son-in-law, an attorney, and paid him approximately $2000 per month for a total of $58,000. When questioned before the grand jury about why she had hired Chancellor Johnson's son-in-law, Jordan testified falsely that she had done so own her own initiative without direction from the Chancellor.
"Investigations of this type are extremely difficult and complicated, and are made even more so when individuals deliberately attempt to hide the truth," stated Richard Minor, Acting Alabama Attorney General. "Nobody is above the law including Ms. Jordan, a former college president."
A formal plea hearing will be set by the U.S. District Court for a later date. The penalty for obstruction of justice in federal court is not more than ten years in prison, fines of $250,000, or both. This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alabama Attorney General's office, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Miles M. Hart and Alabama Assistant Attorney General Bill Lisenby are prosecuting the case.
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