Akash Maharaj, the former Morse College junior charged with forging his application to Yale and stealing financial aid, did not appear in the New Haven Superior Court as scheduled Monday morning. His hearing has been postponed to May 28.
Glenn Conway, the New Haven-based criminal defense attorney representing Maharaj, said his client asked him not to disclose the reason for the postponement, but he added that such delays are not unusual.
“It’s nothing sinister,” Conway said.
Monday’s hearing was supposed to address Maharaj’s application for accelerated rehabilitation, a pre-trial diversionary program that gives first-time offenders a chance to have charges against them dismissed and their criminal records expunged if a court determines that the offense was not serious and is unlikely to be repeated, Conway said.
Hearings can be postponed for various reasons, he said, including the working out of new details that require more time or the unavailability of either party or of the judge or attorneys. He could not specify the particular reason in this case, he said.
But it could not have been Conway’s, the judge’s or the prosecutor’s unavailability because Conway, the presiding judge, Richard Damiani, and the assistant state’s attorney prosecuting Maharaj’s case, Maxine Wilensky, were all in court Monday.
The one explanation Conway said he could provide was that his own busy caseload has occupied a lot of his time recently.
Maharaj did not return messages seeking comment Monday. He has not spoken to the News, or to any other media outlet, since last Tuesday.
The Yale College Dean’s Office rescinded Maharaj’s admission last June after an internal investigation discovered discrepancies in his transfer application. He was arrested last September for forgery and larceny in connection to allegedly defrauding the University and taking $31,750 in Yale financial aid.
Maharaj, 26, has pleaded not guilty. He currently resides in New York City.
Conway said he expects next month’s hearing to address what was originally scheduled to happen Monday.
The motion for accelerated rehabilitation is not an admission of guilt, Conway said, and the facts of Maharaj’s alleged forgery are not at stake at this kind of hearing.
If the motion is sustained, Maharaj would be put on a form of probation that could require education, community service or restitution for up to two years. If he completes it satisfactorily, the charges would be dropped and his criminal record wiped clean.
But if the motion is rejected, Conway, the judge and the prosecution would return to negotiations. If they cannot reach a deal, Maharaj’s case would then proceed to trial, Conway said.
If convicted as charged, Maharaj could face up to 25 years in prison under the Connecticut penal code. He could also face federal charges for $15,039 in federal education money he allegedly stole.