Friday, April 7, 2006

Former Texas Tech Students Sentenced for Defrauding Student Loan Program

Whatever happened to harmless student fun like stealing your biggest rival's mascot or engaging in a little "harmless" fraternity hazing?  A group of former students at Texas Tech were sentenced for their roles in a scheme to qualify students for Pell Grants that they were not eligible to receive, and then split the money.  The ringleader, Rojelio Hernandez, received a 30-month term of imprisonment, while the former students who acted as "go-betweens" received six-month home confinement sentences.  Students who agreed to the use of their names and social security numbers and entered guilty pleas have received terms of probation.  According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas (here):

Hernandez completed, signed, and submitted approximately 31 fraudulent signature pages on the grant applications. Even after he left employment in the financial aid office, he continued to remotely access the university’s computer system to continue the scheme. He altered or removed verification for approximately 26 students. In total, Hernandez falsely qualified approximately 33 students as eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants. The students paid half of the money they received to the “go-betweens,” who in turn delivered the remainder to Hernandez. Hernandez retained approximately $72,525.00 from the scheme for personal use. The total amount of this part of the scheme is approximately $200,000.


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