Nine defendants have been charge with crimes against the United States Department of Education, namely engaging in a conspiracy to commit fraud regarding student financial aid, engaging in a conspiracy to submit fake documents, illegally converting federal funds and the last charge is for money laundering. There is also a forfeiture count related to money laundering.
The defendants charged in the indictment are the Mary Lao Institute, the Corporación de Servicios Educativos de Puerto Rico; , Irma Valentín-Serrano, who is the mother of two of the defendants, Carlos Abreu-Valentín and Ángel Abreu-Valentín, Janet Miranda-Caban, Aileen Arana-Serrano, Nowling Martínez-Contes and Lissa Ramos-García.
The conspiracy was entered into for the purpose of falsifying students’ records so that they could avoid paying refunds to the U.S. Department of Education under the Pell Grants System.
Instead of using the Pell Grants for educational purposes, three of the defendants, Irma Valentín-Serrano, Carlos and Ángel Abreu-Valentín used the money for personal loans, real estate, and businesses that were in no way connected to the Instituto Irma Valentín (IIV) They also gave money to their relatives, who were not employed at IIV, or did any business with IIV. They allegedly did this even though they owed the money to the Department of Education.
If they are found guilty of the crimes they are charged with, the defendants Mary Lao Institute, Corporación de Servicios de Puerto Rico, Irma Valentín-Serrano, Carlos Abreu-Valentín and Angel Abreu-Valentín, will have to forfeit to the US government anything that they used in the commissions of the crimes as well as everything that was bought with the money.
If they are convicted of the charges, the penalties they face are:
On count one, up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000. The same penalty would apply to count two. On count three, up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000. On count four, up to 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $500,000 or two times the value of the property involved, whichever is higher, which adds up to a maximum of 40 years in prison, and there is no parole in the federal prison system, and/or a fine of as much as $1,000,000, which could be higher if they determine the value of the property is more than $500,000.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Puerto Rico, under the supervision of Luis Fraticelli, Special Agent in Charge, and the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General; and will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Myriam Fernández.
An indictment is only a listing of charges and not proof of guilt. The defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Source: FBI http://sanjuan.fbi.gov/