United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
|For Immediate Release
Monday, August 9, 2010 www.usdoj.gov/usao/cae
|Contactt: Lauren Horwood
SACRAMENTO MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO PARTICIPATING IN FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN FRAUD RING
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that Jarmal Duplessis, 22, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty today before Senior United States District Judge William B. Shubb to a conspiracy to commit student loan fraud.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the United States Department of Education, Office of the Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jean M. Hobler.
Also charged in the case are Nakesha Sharrieff, aka Takiyah Raheem and Aysia Hanifah Kahan, 23; Thomas Keys, 23; Hoa Tasha Kelly, aka Tasha Kelly, 24; Jewel Minor, 24; and Teaona Williams, 24; all of Sacramento.
According to the guilty plea, Duplessis admitted that in November of 2008, Hoa Kelly asked him if he wanted to get financial aid money without having to go to school. Duplessis agreed and gave her his social security card and date of birth. Duplessis never had the intention of going to school, nor did he intend to pay the money back. Kelly gave the information to Sharrieff, who applied for federal student aid funds in Duplessis’s name and through the Los Rios Community College District. All of the funds obtained via the scheme were federally provided or insured.
Duplessis admitted in his guilty plea that Kelly called him when checks arrived in his name. Duplessis then met Sharrieff and Kelly at a bank, where he signed and cashed the checks and gave the cash to Sharrieff, who gave him a percentage. He then gave Kelly a “finder’s fee” out of his portion. Duplessis was aware that others were involved in the scheme and recruited at least one other person to participate.
“I want to commend OIG Special Agents and our partners in law enforcement whose actions brought about today’s action. I would also like to thank the staff of the school for referring this matter to our office,” said Kathleen S. Tighe, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education. "Working together, we will aggressively pursue anyone who steals student financial aid and hold them accountable for their unlawful actions."
Duplessis is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Shubb on October 25, 2010, at 8:30 a.m. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
As to the charged defendants, the charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.