International students said sponsor ripped them off of thousands of dollars

By: Allison Latos, WSOC-TV
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 – 9:52 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — International students in Charlotte said a man behind a local nonprofit called The Neighborhood Good Samaritan Center is anything but a good Samaritan.

They said he preyed on them and stole thousands of dollars meant for their tuition.

The three women are international college students from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and their dreams of a college degree have turned into a nightmare.

They blame the nonprofit’s executive director Patrice Ognodo.

The women said Ognodo promised to sponsor them so they could pay in-state tuition.

North Carolina community colleges like CPCC allow nonprofits to sponsor students, allowing for in-state tuition.

UNC Charlotte does not allow nonprofits to sponsor students. It it requires U.S. citizenship or permanent residency.

The three women said they gave Ognodo thousands of dollars, but he paid only a fraction of their tuition.

They discovered the debt when they couldn’t register for classes and tried to reach Ognodo for answers but said he disappeared.

The women suspect he went back to Africa.

Attorney Adam Hocutt represents two of the women and said his clients tracked Ognodo down earlier this year.

“They actually went to confront him with what he did and made him sign an acknowledgment,” Hocutt said. “He has their money and owes them money, but despite signing this, they sit here today still owed thousands and thousands of dollars.”

Hocutt plans to file a civil lawsuit.

Ognodo is back in the U.S. but by taking legal action, he could flee the country, the attorney said.

The women have to attend school, or they will face deportation.

They filed a police report, as well.

CPCC said the Neighborhood Good Samaritan Center is not currently sponsoring students but sponsored nine students since the spring of 2015.