St. John’s University’s so-called “Dean of Mean,” Cecilia Chang, was found dead of an apparent suicide inside her Queens home, a day after melting down on the witness stand.
Chang was on trial for allegedly embezzling $1 million from St. John’s and using foreign students as her personal, indentured servants.
Chang hung herself and cops found her body at 7:38 a.m. inside the disgraced administrator’s Jamaica Estates home, according to federal and local law enforcement sources.
Chang attempted suicide twice before she was successful, sources said.
She tried to slit her wrists and kill herself with gas from her fireplace, according to law enforcement sources. When both of those attempts failed, she hanged herself.
A member of the defense team showed up at Chang’s house to pick her up this morning, and no one answered the door, according to law enforcement sources.
The driver smelled gas and called authorities, who eventually got inside Chang’s home and found her body, sources said.
Brooklyn federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr., presiding over her trial, called Chang’s death a “Shakespearean tragedy.”
The judge theorized that Chang wanted to testify on her own behalf yesterday as a final sign-off.
“That could be why wanted to testify — sayonara,” Johnson said, outside the presence of jurors. “She wanted to get it off her chest.”
The judge added: “We never know how an individual handles pressure.”
Johnson declared a mistrial without jurors in court. He then went back to the juror’s room and broke the shocking news behind closed doors.
“Mrs. Chang is no longer with us,” Johnson announced to jurors, according to panelists.
For several seconds, jurors said they had no idea what Johnson was trying to tell them, before he went into the grim details.
“We were stunned, stunned,” said juror Joan Brophy, a Staten Island resident. “We were not expecting to hear something that tragic.”
“We were shocked,” Brophy added. “It was a shame because she probably punished herself more than anyone could. She didn’t deserve to die. She punished herself far worse than anyone here could have.”
Defense lawyer Joel Cohen called his client’s case a “complex human drama” and lauded her work for St. John’s.
“Cecilia Chang dedicated 30 years of her life to St. John’s University,” Cohen said in a prepared statement. “She was a prolific fundraiser and tireless advocate for her beloved Asian Studies program at the university. Her death today is a sad ending to a complex human drama.”
A St. John’s spokesman urged students, staff and worshippers to pray for Chang’s family.