Guilty pleas in student financial aid frauds
February 11, 2013
• Both cases touches a Central Valley community college
• “Scams like these steal money from hardworking taxpayers and legitimate students”
Two women from towns in California’s desert have pleaded guilty in separate cases of student loan fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in Sacramento.
April Lynn Myles 35, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty to wire and mail fraud in a federal student aid fraud scheme, and Erisheniqua Dixon, 20, of Boron, pleaded guilty to conspiring with other co-defendants to carry out a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal student financial aid funds.
“Scams like these steal money from hardworking taxpayers and legitimate students, and that is unacceptable,” says Natalie Forbort, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General's Western Regional Office.
According to the indictment in the Myles case, from June 2010 to October 2011 Ms. Myles recruited individuals to act as straw students and to apply for FSA funds with her assistance at Bakersfield College and at Santa Barbara Community College. The applicants were not students and did not intend to attend classes.
Ms. Myles also applied for FSA funds in her own name and enrolled herself in courses at Bakersfield College and at Santa Barbara Community College even though she was not eligible to enroll in such courses because she was not a high school graduate. In addition, she obtained identification information from individuals without their knowledge and used that information to apply for FSA funds. As a result, the Department of Education lost more than $80,000.
According to court documents in the Dixon case, from April 2008 to March 2012, Ms. Dixon conspired with other co-defendants to obtain federal student aid funds to which they were not entitled. They fraudulently obtained student aid funds from several community colleges in Kern County and in Southern California.
Ms. Myles is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill on May 13 when she will face a possible maximum sentence for mail fraud and wire fraud of 20 years in prison. Ms. Dixon is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii on April 22. The maximum sentence for conspiracy is five years in prison.