NYC college lecturer, a Kearny resident, charged with federal offenses for selling fake college certificates

Mamdouh Abdel-Sayed, a 68-year-old Kearny resident and a full-time, tenured lecturer at the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College, was arrested Sept. 29 and charged in Manhattan Federal Court with fraud, corruption and obstruction offenses related to his reported selling of sham Medgar Evers College certificates that purported to represent the completion of health care courses at the college, Joon H. Kim, Acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Catherine Leahy Scott, New York State inspector general and Debbi Mayer, assistant special agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General, Northeastern Regional Office, announced in a joint statement

“As alleged, a faculty member of Medgar Evers College abused his position to enrich himself by creating and selling fake certificates stating students had completed health care programs at the college,” Kim saidIn allegedly doing so, Abdel-Sayed, out of greed, put public health at risk. I want to thank our partners at the New York State Inspector General and Department of Education Office of Inspector General for their continued efforts to root out corruption at federally funded New York schools.”

“This defendant ignored repeated warnings and allegedly still brazenly abused the name and resources of his college employer to operate what amounted to his own fraudulent trade school on the grounds of the City University of New York,” Leahy Scott said. “He allegedly traded on the reputation of Medgar Evers College and pocketed all the fees students paid while undercutting legitimate schooling being performed by his colleagues across the campus.  I will continue my overarching and ongoing investigation into the management and oversight of CUNY campuses while diligently pursuing anyone, as in this case, who allegedly violates the trust of their public position.”

According to the allegations contained in the complaint unsealed last week in Manhattan federal court and publicly available documents (which may be viewed at www.theobserver.com):

• Abdel-Sayed is a tenured lecturer in the Biology Department at Medgar Evers College. From at least 2013 through 2017, without authorization from Medgar Evers College, he purported to teach health care courses at the college on topics such as electrocardiograms, phlebotomy and sonography, and provided students with sham certificates of completion for the courses, in exchange for which Abdel-Sayed charged fees of up to $1,000 per certificate, the money from which he kept for himself.  Abdel-Sayed attempted to avoid scrutiny from the college’s security guards in conducting the unauthorized courses.

• In addition to charging fees for the unauthorized courses and sham certificates, he reportedly encouraged students to use the certificates to obtain employment in the health care field, including at New York City-area hospitals.  When asked by employment agencies to verify the authenticity of the certificates, Abdel-Sayedfalsely informed the agencies that the certificates were issued by Medgar Evers College.  Abdel-Sayed reportedly created the sham certificates himself, and provided them to students even if the students did not attend his unauthorized courses, so long as the students paid him for the certificates.  In addition, he is alleged to have distributed copies of purported national certification examinations — which he informed students on a recorded conversation it was “illegal” for them to possess in order to assist the students in passing licensing examinations supposedly administered by the state of New York for certain medical techniques.  

• After Abdel-Sayed became aware of the investigation, he instructed an undercover law enforcement investigator, who had posed as a student and purchased several unauthorized certificates from him, to provide false information to federal law enforcement agents and to conceal those certificates from the agents.       

Abdel-Sayed is charged with one count of conversion from a program receiving federal funds and one count of soliciting bribes, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison — and one count of wirefraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice, each of which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only. Any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by a judge if he is, ultimately, found guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Eli J. Mark is in charge of the prosecution.

On the website www.ratemyprofessors.com, where students are able to anonymously post comments and rate a professor’s teaching abilities, Abdel-Sayed’s marks were almost all positive in nature, with 75% of respondents reporting they’d take his courses again.

“Dr. Sayed was a great professor,” one ratings read. His lectures were engaging and his teaching style is much more advanced and informative than the other professors that teach this course. He also really cares about his students! He wants everyone to do well and he provides you with the material and content to do so. If you put in enough effort, you will do well!

One of the more recent ratings, however, from August, wasn’t so complimentary.

Three words. Dont do it,” it said.

Attempts to contact Abdel-Sayed were unsuccessful. Public records indicate the professor owns a homeBayard Ave. in Kearny and may also own homes in Seaside Heights and Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Abdel-Sayed is free on $100,000 bond, according to reports.

Kevin Canessa | Journalist & Webmaster

Kevin Canessa Jr. is a journalist and webmaster at The Observer. He is responsible for the editorial content on the newspaper’s website, the production of the e-Edition, covering the Nutley Police Department and more behind the scenes. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the editor of The Observer, where he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video for the very first time. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Fla., for four years until February 2016 and in 2016, moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.