U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Puerto Rico
(787) 766-5656
September 10, 2015

Tutoring Services Corporation and 31 Individuals Indicted and Arrested for Defrauding the Department of Education

SAN JUAN, PR—On September 9, 2015, a Federal grand jury returned a seventy-four count indictment charging Rocket Learning, LLC and 31 individuals with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, theft of government money and property, and aggravated identity theft, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Department of Education- Office of Inspector General, the FBI and ICE-HSI are in charge of the investigation. The indictment was unsealed earlier today.

The indictment alleges twenty six-counts of mail fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, related to payments caused to be made via the U.S. Mail to Rocket Learning, Inc., for twenty six fraudulent invoices submitted from 2011—2013 to the Puerto Rico Department of Education; one count of theft of public money, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, related to the approximately $954,297.00 in stolen Title I Federal Funds; and forty-five counts of aggravated identity theft, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), related to the use of means of identification of another person by using the name and signature of real students, in relation to the theft of public money charged in the indictment.

“Individuals and businesses who choose to illegally enrich themselves at the expense of our students and the U.S. taxpayer, instead of providing the educational services invoiced, will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These arrests demonstrate the combined federal commitment to combating fraud, waste and abuse. The investigation continues”.

“Supplemental Education Services program funds provide critical resources for deserving students who seek to improve their academic performance. Today’s actions allege that these 31 individuals and the corporation they worked for, billed and retained SES payments for students who did not receive the tutoring services. That is unacceptable,” said Yessyka Santana, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Southeastern Regional Office. “Tracking down those who would cheat this important program is a priority of our office.”

The defendants are:

  1. Rocket Learning, LLC
  2. Brenda Pérez García—SES Director
  3. Juan Nieves Rivera Rivera –Director of San Juan Region
  4. José Acevedo Rivera –Director of Caguas Region
  5. Lynnette Asencio Plaza –Director of Ponce Region
  6. Héctor Baez Villanueva –Director of Arecibo Region
  7. Kay Pagán Rivera—Program Manager in Caguas Region
  8. Karenie Laborde Muñiz—Program Manager in Caguas Region
  9. Annerys Rodríguez Aponte—Program Manager in Caguas Region
  10. Lis García Medina—Program Manager in Caguas Region
  11. Edjeledeira Meléndez-Rivera—Jr. Program Manager in Caguas Region
  12. Jonathan Morales Febus—Operation Coordinator in Caguas Region
  13. Jeannette Ramírez-Zapata—Program Manager in Ponce Region
  14. Francisco Sánchez Zayas—Program Manager in Ponce Region
  15. Yamaris Torres Ortiz—Program Manager in Ponce Region
  16. Sayra López Torres—Program Manager in Ponce Region
  17. Anita Ortiz Rodríguez—Program Manager in Ponce Region
  18. Sheila Pagán Carrasquillo—Operation Coordinator in Ponce Region
  19. Elba Yanira Jiménez Pérez—Program Manager in Arecibo Region
  20. Gretchen Román Soto—Program Manager in Arecibo Region
  21. Milliam Centeno Soto—Program Manager in Arecibo Region
  22. Emmanuel Cruz Martínez—Program Manager in Arecibo Region
  23. Katia Tapia Torres—Program Manager in Arecibo Region
  24. Noraima Mercado Vázquez—Program Manager in Arecibo Region
  25. Nayra Alicea Delgado—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  26. Eileen Gutiérrez Stone—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  27. Glorymar Rodríguez Casiano—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  28. Minerva Mendoza Acevedo—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  29. Suhayl Méndez Reyes—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  30. Javier Reyes López—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  31. Luisa García Arriaga—Program Manager in San Juan Region
  32. José Sánchez Bauzá—Program Manager in San Juan Region

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth A. Erbe and the Chief of the Financial Fraud and Corruption Unit, José Capó-Iriarte. If found guilty, defendants are facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and two additional years for each aggravated identity theft count. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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