MERCED COUNTY — A federal judge on Monday sentenced two Merced County residents to prison for conspiring with others to defraud the federal government of $200,000 in student financial aid, the U.S. attorneys office in Sacramento reported.
Yvette Maura August, 53, of Atwater was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison. Kim Rene Gray, 51, of Los Banos got a 28-month sentence.
August and Gray, along with others, were found to have defrauded the U.S. Department of Education in student grants and loans. Federal prosecutors said the defendants submitted false financial-aid applications to Capella University and Axia College at the University of Phoenix on behalf of students who did not intend to attend the schools.
In some cases, prosecutors said, the defendants used stolen identities to apply for college financial aid. Prosecutors said the colleges paid more than $200,000 in grants and loans, and that about $110,000 was paid to the defendants.
Two other defendants have been convicted in this case.
On July11, a jury found Keith Lazell Woolridge Sr., 41, of Fresno guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Piersha Woolridge, 34, of Atwater pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Piersha Woolridge is scheduled to be sentenced Sept.23, and Keith Woolridge is scheduled to be sentenced Oct.31.
This case is the result of criminal investigations by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector Generals criminal investigations aimed at shutting down student financial aid fraud schemes that exploit federal student aid.
These four people didnt think they would get caught. They were wrong, Natalie Forbort of the Department of Education said in a news release.