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Private Firm Investigates Sweet Briar Closure, Alleges Fraud

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Sweet Briar College Sweet Briar College
AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Board of Sweet Briar College is responding to a private intelligence firm's allegations that several members are guilty of financial fraud.

The man bringing forth these claims is a whistleblower from an international bank's money laundering investigation. Everett Stern formed his company, Tactical Rabbit, after his experience as a whistleblower at HSBC Bank. The firm specializes in investigations.

Stern says after looking into what's been going on at Sweet Briar College, there is no doubt in his mind that fraud is being committed. "If this college goes down then our freedoms are in jeopardy," says Stern.

Whistleblower Everett Stern told dozens of Saving Sweet Briar College supporters Saturday that an investigation by his company reveals college President James Jones and Board Chair Paul Rice committed fraud to close the school.

Stern claims both men accepted student loans under false pretenses.

"Rice and Jones planned on this college being shut down and knew while taking applications from students,” says Stern. When his company looked for the accounting documents, Stern says they weren't there.

"We got a tip that documents were being shredded and we heard this from a number of sources, very credible sources," claims Stern.

Stern alleges Chairman Rice provided the rest of the board with false information. He credits one of those board members as a source in his investigation.

"If Rice wants to sue me because I'm saying that he's manipulating financial documents, go for it, I know you are, so you're going to lose in court," says Stern.

Stern also claims his investigators posed as potential buyers for the college's property, and even made an offer.

"Rice is offering this to his friends and cronies and there's something very, very wrong here," says Stern.

Several Sweet Briar students who attended the announcement of Stern's findings say they are being threatened to keep quiet.

"We paid some room deposits in the beginning of the year and we were told that if we're caught against the authorities that those won't be repaid," says Julia Rhinehart, Sweetbriar Sophomore.

"If campus police or campus security catch you hanging banners then they're going to hold your transcripts or diplomas," says Makayla Benjamin, Sweetbriar Sophomore.

Stern hopes speaking out will lead the feds to investigate the closing of Sweet Briar College.

"This is not some small town problem, but an American problem and we cannot let this happen to a group of young women,” says Stern.

Sweet Briar's Board released this statement in response to Stern's investigation:

Everett Stern's scurrilous accusations are outrageous and irresponsible. It is disheartening that just days after the meeting of all relevant parties in Richmond to discuss possible paths forward that such an event would take place. It is counterproductive to the efforts of Wednesday's meeting and disruptive to the students who are in the middle of exams.

That meeting on Wednesday was hosted by the Attorney General's office.

Stern says his firm will release the full details of the investigation in about a week.

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