THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
EASTERN DISTRICT of CALIFORNIA
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 11, 2013
CONTACT: LAUREN HORWOOD
GUILTY PLEAS IN FEDERAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID FRAUD SCHEMES
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two defendants pleaded guilty today in two separate cases of student loan fraud, U.S. Attorney Wagner announced.
April Lynn Myles 35, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty to wire and mail fraud in a federal student aid fraud scheme, and Erisheniqua D. 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.
These cases are the result of the U.S. Department of Education OIG’s criminal investigations aimed at shutting down Federal student aid “fraud rings” that seek to exploit federal student aid programs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Rabenn is prosecuting the Myles case; Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Sherriff is prosecuting the Dixon case.
“Scams like these steal money from hardworking taxpayers and legitimate students, and that is unacceptable,” said Natalie Forbort, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General's Western Regional Office. “OIG is committed to fighting student financial aid fraud and we will continue to aggressively pursue those that participate in these types of crimes.”
According to the indictment in the Myles case, from June 2010 to October 2011 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. Myles also applied for FSA funds in her own name and enrolled herself in courses at Bakersfield College and at Santa Barbara Community College. She was not eligible to enroll in such courses because she was not a high school graduate. In addition, Myles 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, 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.
Myles is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on May 13, 2013. The maximum sentence for mail fraud and wire fraud is 20 years in prison. Dixon is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on April 22, 2013. The maximum sentence for conspiracy is 5 years in prison. The actual sentences will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.