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College officials give grand jury testimony

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A federal grand jury this week heard from some of Alabamaís two-year college presidents, Chancellor Bradley Byrne confirmed.

Byrne told The Birmingham News he was unsure how many presidents appeared, but he said Southern Union State Community College President Susan Salatto appeared Thursday.

Federal prosecutors have been investigating the two-year college system following their initial probe of the Alabama Fire College that began in the summer of 2004.

Prosecutors placed a lien on former Chancellor Roy Johnsonís $1.3 million home last year, claiming he built it with the help of kickbacks paid by contractors he helped hire in the system.

Johnson was president of Southern Union before becoming the systemís chancellor in 2002. State school board members fired Johnson last year after learning about jobs and contracts his relatives received in the system.

Byrne, who is the systemís fourth chancellor since the controversy surrounding Johnson began last year, said Friday he discussed the criminal investigation with prosecutors recently. But he would not elaborate.

Byrne said he is continuing his efforts to visit every college since taking over the system in May. He visited Southern Union on Thursday, his 20th college visited so far. He plans trips to the remaining six colleges over the next few weeks.

ďThatís what youíve got to do to make this stuff work,Ē he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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