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Plea Bargain Offered in Yale Scam

January 21, 1999

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A woman accused of faking her credentials to get into Yale University, then concocting a phony rape story after failing to show up in court, could avoid prison time if she accepts a plea bargain today, her lawyer said.

Tonica Jenkins, 23, was given an ultimatum by Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano _ either accept a deal or face trial on charges that could put her behind bars for more than 50 years. She was due in court today.

``I expect that she will take the deal,″ her lawyer, Norman Pattis, said Wednesday. ``However, this is a very emotional case for her.″

The agreement would end a yearlong odyssey filled with allegations of academic forgery, rape, kidnapping and assault on prison guards.

Jenkins was arrested in December 1997 on charges that she got into Yale’s graduate program in neurobiology by forging transcripts and submitting phony recommendations. The university had awarded Jenkins a $10,600 grant and a $4,500 stipend when she began classes.

She pleaded innocent to the charges, as well as a charge of attempted escape after she allegedly tried to flee when she was arrested.

She was expected to accept a plea bargain last July that would have spared her jail time and left her with no criminal record. But she was declared a fugitive after she failed to appear in court. She was found the following day at home in East Cleveland, Ohio.

She told police there that a man had abducted her from a parking lot in New Haven, raped her, put her in the trunk of her car and drove south. She said she escaped in Philadelphia.

However, when she arrived in Connecticut the following week, the judge said he didn’t believe her story and sent her to prison to await a trial on larceny, second-degree forgery, escape and two counts of failure to appear in court.

Before posting $150,000 bond, Jenkins allegedly attacked and injured two guards and another person who attempted to subdue her. She was charged with two counts of assault on a corrections officer, but those charges could be folded into the forgery case if Jenkins accepts the state’s offer, Pattis has said.

Jenkins never filed a formal claim with police on the alleged rape.

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