Fourteen former Mountain State University nursing students have filed a lawsuit alleging racketeering and mail and wire fraud against the university and its former president.
The suit was filed Aug. 3 in Jefferson County Circuit Court by Valeri Dillow, Chika Gerladine Ahunanya, Ernest Aknonwah, Tabitha Barrett, Amanda Barton, Jamie Beachley, Christine Kamuga, Nikki Kendig, Divine Kum, Stephanie Mitchell, Nur Muhammed, Victorine Ngang, Sufyan Turay and Laverne Pauline Waters.
Defendants were listed as Charles H. Polk, MSU, MSU Building Company, MSU Foundation Inc. and MSU Endowment Fund
Calling defendants a "criminal enterprise," the suit alleges there was a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiracy to engage in racketeering in the past 10 calendar years.
"Former MSU President, Dr. Charles H. Polk, was the ringleader of the MSU Enterprise and controlled the racketeering activity and deceptive practices at the MSU Enterprise," the suit asserts.
The suit alleges defendants "orchestrated a scheme" to increase enrollment so the school could bring in more federal student loan and grant money.
At the same time, the suit alleges, the university did not inform students about the progress from accrediting agencies and government agencies.
Like other lawsuits against MSU, this suit took issue with Polk's salary, asserting in 2009 his salary of $1,843,746 was 3.5 percent of the university's budget.
"Dr. Polk encouraged lying, dishonesty, wrongdoing, unethical conduct, immoral conduct, misleading representations, false promises, and deceptive practices among MSU faculty and staff in order to reap vast financial rewards for himself," the suit asserts.
The suit alleged Polk directed "lavish spending of the ill-gotten gains of the racketeering activity," using Polk's statue, two jet airplanes and Polk's salary as alleged examples.
The suit further asserts Polk used the airplanes on personal trips.
The suit additionally alleged the university lied, made false promises and "intentionally withheld" information from the students concerning statuses of their applications, requirements for the nursing program, accreditation of the nursing program, likelihood of graduation and whether they could take exams.
"The Enterprise recruited each of the plaintiffs – at times relentlessly – to MSU's nursing program; MSU represented that they would earn their degrees in a short period of time, pass their exams and secure lucrative jobs after graduation."
The suit asserts some students were wrongly failed.
For the mail and wire fraud allegation, the suit alleges the university assured students by email and through advertisements they would obtain a degree from an accredited school. The suit asserts MSU knew it was having accreditation problems.