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OIG: Office of Inspector General
   Current Section

Investigative Report

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2006
United States Attorney
John L. Brownlee

BB&T Building
310 1st Street, S.W., Room 906
Roanoke, Virginia 24011
Contact:
Heidi Coy
Public Affairs Specialist
Tel: (540) 857-2250
Fax: 540) 857-2180

Former Inmate Pleads Guilty to his Role in a Conspiracy to Submit False Claims for Financial Aid

United States Attorney John L. Brownlee announced today that Jason P. Justus, age 32, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit false claims to the United States in connection with his role in a scheme to get financial aid money from the Department of Education.

According to evidence presented by Assistant United States Attorney C. Patrick Hogeboom, III, Justus was incarcerated in the Pulaski Correctional Unit in January 2003. Beginning in July 2003, Jason Justus, along with his mother, Karen Justus, and his sister, Joy Justus, developed a scheme to defraud the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service by filing false income tax returns and applications for education assistance. The conspirators used the names of real people who were not owed tax refunds nor qualified to receive student aid, some of whom were incarcerated in the Pulaski Correctional Unit. Justus, his mother and sister, submitted the false tax returns and applications for student aid electronically.

Between January 2003 and June 2005, Jason Justus submitted and caused to be submitted false Federal Tax Returns that resulted in the issuance of 30 tax refund checks totaling over $68,000.

Between July 2003 and April 2005, Justus submitted and caused to be submitted applications for financial assistance for the attendance at Ivy Tech State College and Owens State Community College. Those fraudulent applications resulted in the payment of $110,227.00 from the Department of Education to people who were not enrolled in programs at these colleges.

The Grand Jury has charged that on July 29, 2003, an electronic FAFSA was submitted to the Department of Education to fund the attendance of Jason P. Justus at Ivy Tech for the 2003-2004 school year. The FAFSA was submitted while Justus was incarcerated at Pulaski Correctional Unit, which does not provide inmates with internet access or educational furloughs. Because of the information Justus submitted, Justus was awarded a Pell Grant in the amount of $3,900 and federal student loans in the amount of $6,625.00.

On October 16, 2004, Karen Justus informed her brother, Jason Justus, who was incarcerated at the time, that he "....was doing pretty good in school."

On November 21, 2004, Karen Justus called Jason P. Justus at Pulaski Correctional Facility and said "I think I forgot to take a test for you."

Jason Justus faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. He will be sentenced on January 9, 2007.

Karen and Joy Justus have both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to submit false claims to the United States.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education. Assistant United States Attorney C. Patrick Hogeboom prosecuted the case.


 
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Last Modified: 10/27/2006