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PRESS RELEASE:
Boston, MA March 01, 2000

United States Courthouse, Suite 9200:
1 Courthouse Way
Boston, Massachusetts

FLORIDA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO $800,000 STUDENT LOAN FRAUD SCHEME WHILE SERVING SENTENCE FOR PREVIOUS CONVICTION ON IDENTICAL SCHEME

Boston, MA - A Florida resident admitted today that he was responsible for submitting multiple fraudulent student loan applications over a three-year period.

United States Attorney Donald K, Stern announced today that CONRAD CORTEZ, age 38, of Miami, Florida, pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel to numerous counts of mail fraud, bank fraud and social security account number fraud. stemming from his submission of nineteen fraudulent student loan applications to agencies acid banks in Massachusetts.

According to documents filed earlier with the Court, CORTEZ , while incarcerated and on federal supervised release for a 1996 conviction for a similar scheme, filed the fraudulent student loan applications falsely claiming to be an enrolled student at foreign medical schools. Once CORTEZ obtained the money, he used it for his personal benefit. CORTEZ was arrested in Florida in August of 1999 on a criminal complaint stemming from the new charges. He was transferred to Massachusetts and has been held in custody since his arrest.

U.S. Attorney Stern stated: "Mr. Cortez has once again stolen money from the federal student loan program -- money that otherwise would have gone to deserving students with legitimate funding needs. In today's climate of ever increasing education costs, it is essential that such fraud be exposed and rectified. Mr. Cortez's brazen and greedy scheme no doubt angers every student who benefitted from a loan and worked hard to pay it back."

At today's hearing before Judge Zobel, a federal prosecutor told the court that CORTEZ was responsible for filing 19 federal student loan applications over a three-year period as part of a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Education. The Department oversees the Federal Family Education Loan Program and is responsible for guaranteeing and re-insuring the loans made by private lenders. CORTEZ used false social security account numbers in filing for the benefits under the loan program. As a result of filing the false applications and obtaining funds, CORTEZ defrauded both Bank Boston and Fleet Bank during the execution of this scheme.

In addition to the 19 loans here in Massachusetts, the prosecutor told the court that CORTEZ was responsible for dozens of other loans filed outside of the Commonwealth and, as a result, is responsible for defrauding the government of more than $800,000. As a result of the plea. the government is also seeking forfeiture of any assets CORTEZ may have to satisfy the loss to the government.

Judge Zobel set sentencing for May 4, 2000 at 10:00 a.m. CORTEZ faces maximum penalties of 30 years on each of the bank fraud counts and a maximum fine of $1 million. The mail fraud and social security fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of 5 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by agents from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General. both in Massachusetts and New York; the Social Security Administration: the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nadine Pellegrini of Stern's Major Crimes Unit and Jennifer Boal of Stern's Asset Forfeiture Unit.

Press Contact: Samantha Martin, (617) 748-3139


 
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Last Modified: 03/03/2005