From the NY DAILY NEWS….The News reported exclusively on Monday that Chang was the prime suspect in the 1990 homicide of her first husband, Ruey Fung Tsai. Tsai scrawled a deathbed note to detectives claiming she was behind the hit job, and suggested she had been in a relationship with Donald Manes, the corrupt Queens borough president who killed himself in 1986.
Manes lived just three blocks away from Chang.
Neighbors say she lived at her Jamaica Estates home for more than 30 years and kept to herself. But they noticed her extravagant lifestyle, which included three Mercedes and pricey clothes.
One neighbor, who attended St. John’s and declined to give her name, said she stopped donating to the school because of the scandal, even though her two sons are also alumni.
“We haven’t given them anything since this started. We are furious,” said the neighbor. “We see how extravagantly she’s been living. She was getting the money from somewhere.”
The tragic turn of events came a day after a belligerent and disheveled-looking Chang took the stand and insisted St. John’s owed her what she took.
Chang, 59, claimed the money she was accused of stealing was owed to her for the hundreds of thousands she spent from her own pocket on fund-raising.
“I laid out so much money over the years,” Chang testified. “I raised $20 million for St. John’s.”
Chang, who was fired in 2010, admitted fibbing to the feds about her overseas bank accounts, but insisted she was drunk at the time.
The doomed dean, however, said she was stone-cold sober when she submitted bogus business expense reports to St. John’s to cover personal expenses like purchases at Victoria’s Secret, gambling services and memberships to online dating services.
Asked to explain why, Chang said it was payback for the money she laid out over the years for business-related gifts she had paid for out of her own pocket.
Chang’s family had helped fund the Sun Yat Sen Hall on campus and she became a globe-trotting ambassador and master fund-raiser for the school.
Dominic Scianna, St. John’s associate vice president for external relations, urged “the entire St. John’s University community to pray for her and her family” upon learning of her death.
Hoping to save her own hide, Chang threw her superiors under the bus during her Monday tirade on the stand. She claimed she bankrolled the Atlantic City gambling jaunts of the late school president, the Rev. Joseph Cahill. And she claimed she passed $400,000 in cash to the current president, the Rev. Donald Harrington, “to help the poor.” Chang said she decked him out with 40 to 50 custom-made suits from the famed “Sam the Tailor” in Hong Kong.
Chang was repeatedly admonished by Johnson for arguing with both the prosecutor and her own lawyer.\
Testimony about students doing her laundry was exaggerated, she said.
“Very rare that much clothes to wash,” she said.
Chang, who was from Taiwan, also admitted ordering a student to burn documents and having them perform her housekeeping duties for free. She maintained explained there wasn’t anything improper about putting the students to work in her home because it was like a “home base” for school duties, and there wasn’t enough work in the Asian studies department for 19 students.
Asked Tuesday if they were concerned for Chang’s safety after her bizarre testimony a day earlier, two of her attorneys declined to comment.
Instead they released a statement: “Cecilia Chang dedicated 30 years of her life to St. John’s University. She was a prolific fund-raiser and tireless advocate for her beloved Asian Studies program at the university. Her death today is a sad ending to a complex human drama.”