The DOJ announced that five former school administrators were sentenced for their roles in an elaborate federal financial aid scheme. Sandra Anderson, Yolanda Brown Thomas, Kristina Parker, Erica Montgomery, and Leo Frank Thomas (Defendants) previously pleaded guilty for their roles in creating a sham university, enrolling fake students, and defrauding the Department of Education of nearly $12 million. They were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, and financial aid fraud. Anderson and Montgomery received an additional charge of money laundering.

From approximately August 2010 through May 2018, Defendants actively recruited and enrolled hundreds of students who were neither qualified for nor interested in the study of theology at Apex School of Theology—Columbus. The Defendants completed homework assignments and exams for enrolled students to ensure they met requirements to receive federal financial aid. They also completed FAFSA applications for the students and promised financial aid awards, including refund checks. However, Defendants forced the students to cash their aid checks and provide them a portion or completely stole their refund checks.

In August 2022, the Defendants alleged they were targeted because of their race and attempted to have the case dismissed. Judge Clay Land ruled that the Defendants did not submit clear and convincing evidence to support a racially motivated indictment. All five Defendants received prison time ranging from 3 to 9 years. Sandra Anderson, the former Director of Apex Columbus, received the longest sentence. They were also ordered to, jointly and severally, pay $11,821,022 in restitution.

The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection to financial fraud and White-Collar Criminal matters. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.