Former Columbus theology school administrators charged in $12M student loan defrauding scheme

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 10:19 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Six former administrators of the Columbus campus of Apex School of Theology are being charged in a reported scheme to defraud student loan programs of more than $12,000,000.

The newly unsealed grand jury indictment alleges that the six defendants decided to operate an off-site learning center in Columbus on behalf of Apex School of Theology, which is now non-existent.

In the scheme, the administrators searched for individuals to pose as fake students and falsely apply for federal financial aid. The “students” were told that they would not have to do any work or take classes, but would have to split any “free money” given to them through federal financial aid with the administrators.

The indictment also alleges that the administrators submitted plagiarized work for the “students,” took their tests and logged onto the school’s website to trick the Department of Education that they were real students. They also falsified admission packets and applied for financial aid on behalf of the “students” claiming to be the student, saying the funds were going to be used for educational purposes.

Funds were instead used to line their own pockets. In total, they allegedly defunded the Department of Education of more than $12,000,000 in taxpayer funds.

Defendants charged with one count of conspiracy, five counts of mail fraud, and five counts of financial aid fraud include:

  • Erica Montgomery, 47, of Ft. Mitchell, Alabama - also charged with money laundering
  • Sandra Anderson, 61, of Columbus, Georgia - also charged with money laundering
  • Leo Frank Thomas, 54, of Columbus, Georgia
  • Yolanda Thomas, 50, of Columbus, Georgia
  • Dorothy Webb, 68, of Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Kristina Parker, 33, of Stone Mountain, Georgia

Read the full indictment below.

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