Junaid Ahmed ’02, the Cornell engineering student charged with mail fraud due to forging his original University application, has pleaded guilty to the 13 charges and will now stand before the U.S District Court in Binghamton on March 21 to answer to a judge.
The 13 counts of mail fraud Ahmed were charged with last November stem from including false information in his application to the College of Engineering in 1996.
As reported by the Ithaca Journal, his attorney, Scott Kurkoski would not comment about the case but confirmed that Ahmed is of Canadian and Pakistani decent.
Documents allegedly forged were sent to the University from a secondary school in Canada.
During Ahmed’s four years at Cornell as an engineering student, he received $85,000 in financial aid along with other benefits of being a student. In September, his application to the Master of Engineering Degree Program at Cornell aroused suspicion that led to an investigation into his 1996 application.
At the time of the guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Walsh told the Ithaca Journal that he felt the thorough investigation led to Ahmed’s eventual guilty plea. Due to time constraints, Walsh was now unavailable for comment.
The investigation uncovered that Ahmed’s secondary school report included possible forged signatures, an inaccurate class rank and accomplishment information. The investigation conducted by the University, Cornell Police, the FBI, and the United States Marshal’s Service for the Northern District of New York culminated in his arrest on Nov. 7, 2001.
Ahmed’s maximum penalty for the charges now that he has pleaded guilty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the 13 counts.
Walsh said that Ahmed was under supervision and is not allowed to travel freely, according to the Ithaca Journal reports from the time of the plea.
While unable to comment about university judicial proceedings due to the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell News Service said, “It was a successful investigation headed by the Cornell Police and we are still awaiting the final outcome.”
The outcome should come soon as Ahmed sits in a Broome county jail awaiting his hearing.
In a case several years ago, a student was found to have forged documents after gaining admission to the Johnson Graduate School of Management. “These two cases have been the only in my ten years here,” Grace-Kobas said.
She noted that for a student who is proved of these types of activities, “the penalties are rather high,” she said.
The Johnson Graduate student was arrested and left the University as a result.
Archived article by Peter Norlander