Arizona

Dec 5, 2012 1:22 PM by Tania Shofron

Federal prison time for 4 women in student aid fraud scheme

PHOENIX - Four Phoenix women were sentenced this week for their participation in a fraud scheme that duped the federal government out of more than $150,000.

Elizabeth Meza, 33, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for her role as the ringleader of a student loan fraud scheme. Analisa Delgado, 39, Denise Wheeler, 44, and Sandra Lopez, 25 will also serve time for their participation.

Federal prosecutors say the four enrolled "straw" students in online courses at Rio Salado Community College, then submitted fraudulent student aid applications under the fake students' names. The scheme, which was orchestrated during the 2011-2012 school year, resulted in payouts of more than $150,000 of federal student aid.

Delgado, who is already serving a prison sentence, supplied the names and personal information of fellow inmates to be used as the "straw" students.

Meza and Delgado must also serve three years of supervised release following their prison sentences and pay nearly $60,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Education.

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