Accused of Stealing $500,000 From Students
MT. SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE IN WALNUT, CALIFORNIA, has a Fire Technology program that offers a variety of courses including fire academy preparation for people who want to become firefighters. The Fire Tech section typically has about 1,000 students enrolled each semester and has been headed by a retired fire officer, Jerry Dewayne Austin who is listed in the school website as Professor / Department Chair.
Last week Austin was arrested and then arraigned on Monday on charges that he stole as much as a half-million dollars from the Fire Tech students. At a time not disclosed, Austin opened a bank account under another school administrator’s name, using the college’s employer identification number, and managed to deposit every check that was written to the Fire Tech section including all the tuition payments. The sheriff believes that Austin charged the students an inflated price for their tuition and kept the overages for himself.
A tip to the college back in September about the bank account led to an investigation that turned up the scheme. Austin is being held in jail under a $3 million dollar bond because he is considered a flight risk. He has converted much of his ill-gotten gains to properties outside the United States.