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Saturday, February 8, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Nielsen Must Give Back $74,400 In Kickbacks, Bribes -- Ex-College President To Begin Prison Term

Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

SEATTLE - Thomas Nielsen, the former president of Edmonds Community College facing a two-year prison term, must give the school about $74,400 of his kickbacks and bribes, a federal judge has ruled.

Nielsen, 55, is scheduled to turn himself in March 3 to Geiger Corrections Center, a minimum-security prison in Spokane.

He was sentenced in December to serve two years in prison and to pay about $131,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

U.S. District Court Judge Carolyn Dimmick ruled Thursday on arguments that Nielsen should give EdCC and the city of Lynnwood payments totaling about $205,600 that he accepted from Far Eastern and local businessmen.

Dimmick agreed Nielsen must pay EdCC about $54,600 he took between 1988 and 1993 from the Japanese developer of EdCC's branch campus in Kobe, Japan.

The college this week announced the 7-year-old Kobe campus is closing due to low enrollment.

Nielsen also must pay EdCC about $19,800 he accepted in 1994 and 1995 from a Malaysian group involved with a branch campus in Shenzhen, China.

That branch campus also will close this year.

Nielsen's alleged partner in those schemes, a former EdCC official who cooperated with the federal investigation, has not been indicted and apparently will not be ordered to pay restitution.

The remaining $131,200 in payments Nielsen doesn't have to share includes $80,000 from an Everett businessman. Nielsen arranged the sale of the man's property to the city of Lynnwood, for use by the city's golf course and EdCC's horticulture program. Dimmick ruled that neither EdCC nor Lynnwood are entitled to that money.

Nielsen served as EdCC president from 1979 to 1995, gaining national attention when he masterminded the deals to build the foreign campuses, the first of their kind.

While at Geiger, a federal and county prison, Nielsen will live in a four-man room in an unlocked dormitory, said prison Administrator Mike Pannek.

About 80 percent of Geiger's federal prisoners committed drug offenses, he said.

All federal inmates are assigned jobs, such as cleanup and maintenance work. Others work at the nearby Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, he said.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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