By Samantha Dennis
Federal student financial aid has given many students the opportunity to obtain a desired education, but with every nice gesture, there are always people who take advantage of a helpful hand and the federal government is cracking down.
Cases of federal financial aid fraud occur all over the United States, but recently there has been a case involving City College and two other Bay Area schools.
Three people pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the federal government out of more than $1 million.
The other Bay Area colleges targeted were Ohlone College and Chabot College.
According to a press release from the United States Attorneys Office, Northern California District, Kyle Edward Moore, Cortio Detrice Wade and Marcel Devon Bridges pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit financial aid fraud and wire fraud before the federal court in Oakland on Feb. 14, 2014.
Moore, Wade and Bridges admitted to reaching out to people and assisting these “straw students” with the completion of the Free Applications for Federal Student Aid.
The three did so even though they knew that some of the applicants were ineligible to receive funds due to the lack of a high school diploma or “a recognized equivalent” and the lack of intention to attend college classes.
Moore, Wade and Bridges were indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 15, 2013, and admitted to defrauding the Department of Education of over $1 million.
Sentencing hearings will be held in the fall before United States District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar in Oakland.
The maximum penalty for each count of conspiracy to commit financial aid fraud is five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and restitution.
The maximum for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in prison and the same monetary penalty and restitution as the conspiracy charge, according to the press release.
Some City College students have heard of such fraud cases happening and have noticed that some students receive the financial aid checks and then stop attending classes.
City College graphic design student Doug Orzynski, 19, said that he knows a few people who have done this.
“I’ve heard some people signed up and bounced out as soon as they get their financial aid checks,” Orzynski said.
Orzynski said that he doesn’t think there are a large amount of people who are doing it at City College. He also said that if such financial aid cheating becomes a plague, it may start to affect financial aid funds for students who genuinely need it.