A Euclid woman was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for a scheme in which she fraudulently enrolled students into Ohio community colleges to defraud the U.S. Department of Education out of $1.8 million.
Basheera Perry, 45, was sentenced to 114 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $1.9 million in restitution. She previously pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including conspiracy, wire and mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.
"These programs were designed to help make college more affordable to people who want an education, but this defendant used them to enrich herself," U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. "She was a one-stop shop for fraud."
According to court documents:
Perry conspired with others between 2009 and 2017 to defraud the U.S. Department of Education. Perry would use the fraudulent students’ name, date of birth and social security to enroll them in community colleges, including Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Owens Community College and others.
She then applied for financial aid on behalf of the students, which came in the form of loans, Pell and other grants. Many of the “students” participated in the scheme for money and did not have any intention of going to school or using the financial aid for school-related purposes. Also, many did not have a high school diploma or GED, making them ineligible to receive the financial aid.
Perry, her recruiters and the fraudulent students split the proceeds of the financial aid. The Department of Education sent the money to the colleges, which in turn would send the excess financial aid to the “students” via check or debit cards to addresses controlled by Perry.
Perry charged the students fees to complete their academic coursework -- $1,000 for two courses, $1,500 for three courses and $2,000 for four courses. She also charged $500 to make counterfeit GED certificates or high school diploma transcripts. She also created other false documents, such as death certificates, medical records and police reports, for use in academic appeals if the “students” received notification of lack of satisfactory academic progress needed to receive financial aid.
She also participated Section 8 housing fraud between 2012 and 2017.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration -- Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education -- Office of Inspector General, Postal Inspection Service and Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Kern and Danielle Angeli.