Three Defendants Plead Guilty in Federal Student Aid Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 18, 2014|
OAKLAND—Kyle Edward Moore, Cortio Detrice Wade, and Marcel Devon Bridges pleaded guilty on February 14, 2014, in federal court in Oakland to conspiracy to commit financial aid fraud and wire fraud, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
In pleading guilty, Moore, Wade, and Bridges admitted to conspiring to obtain federal student aid funds offered under the Title IV Federal Student Assistance Program. Moore and his co-defendants obtained the aid by preparing and transmitting fraudulent Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAs) to the U.S. Department of Education.
In carrying out the fraud scheme, Moore and his co-defendants recruited third-parties to serve as “straw students” and then assisted the straw students in preparing, signing, and transmitting fraudulent FAFSAs, knowing that many of the straw students were not eligible to obtain Title IV funds because, among other things, the straw students had not obtained high school diplomas or a recognized equivalent and had no intention of attending school or using the funds for educational purposes. After receiving the student loan funds, Moore and his co-defendants would share the fraudulently obtained funds among themselves and sometimes with the straw students.
Moore, Wade, and Bridges admitted to defrauding the Department of Education in the amounts of $771,268, $136,088, and $114,734, respectively.
Moore, Wade, and Bridges were indicted by a federal grand jury on August 15, 2013. They were charged with conspiracy to commit financial aid fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and with multiple counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Pursuant to their plea agreements, Moore pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud; Bridges pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud; and Wade pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and four counts of wire fraud.
Moore, Wade, and Bridges were released on bonds.
Moore and Bridges have a sentencing hearing scheduled for August 22, 2014. Wade has a sentencing hearing scheduled for September 19, 2014. Both sentencing hearings will be held before the Honorable Jon S. Tigar, United States District Court Judge, in Oakland. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of conspiracy to commit financial aid fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 is five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and restitution. The maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 is 20 years in prison; a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater; and restitution. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
AUSA Wade M. Rhyne is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Janice Pagsanjan and Patty Lau. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General.