Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kaushal Niroula and The Gay Grifters

The Old College Try

Martin Hamilton, the president of New College of California, had big plans for the little school. He wanted to expand internationally, and to move the campus from the Mission district to the more graceful and formidable former San Francisco State University campus on Market Street. He found a dashing young prince who promised to fulfill all his dreams. But that prince was in fact a pauper.

In 2002, young Nepalese student Kaushal Niroula allegedly promised Hamilton that he would donate a million dollars in exchange for the course credits that would extend his student visa. He'd pay up just as soon as he had the money freed up—once the former KGB agents stopped harassing his father, or once the Islamic terrorists released his sister, or once those pesky Maoist insurgents stopped pestering the old-line loyalists in Nepal's enduring civil war. He claimed he was a member of the royal family and chief of staff for a former Nepalese foreign minister, and that, like his Nigerian peers, he just needed to wait for things to settle down so he could access his funds.

Kylie Monali
Kylie Monali
In reality, Niroula was from a middle class family. When classmates at Xavier School and the Kathmandu Academy in Nepal had teased him for being too effeminate, dubbing him "Kaulie" or "Kylie" (a name he would later adopt for his drag queen alter ego Kylie Monali), it had inspired fantasies of moving to urban and successful San Francisco. He told his drama class friends that he had rich relatives in America; when he got to the U.S., he just flipped that story around and told his new acquaintances that his family was rich.

Not everyone was quite so easily taken in by the Niroula's blend of sophisticated charm and arrogant swagger. Classmates and staff called Niroula the Little Prince or, suggestively, Prince Little Stuff, and whispered rumors of the sexual or financial arrangements which bonded Hamilton and Niroula. Saratoga real estate salesman Mark Evans says he and Hamilton just thought Niroula was a kid who needed help. Niroula's tall tales didn't fool him; they just made him seem more needy, Evans says.

Niroula claims that dissatisfied faculty members used him as a pawn to get rid of Hamilton. If that's true, they succeeded all too well.

The regional accrediting organization, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, investigated when students and staff reported the alleged deal. Hamilton denied the story, and Niroula was never charged, but most accounts agree that Niroula brought down the college, which lost its accreditation in the resulting investigation.

In 2008, just 27 years after it was founded, the college closed its doors. Niroula and his friends had already moved on to bigger things.

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