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4 Montgomery residents sentenced for education fraud

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Four Montgomery residents have been sentenced for theirinvolvement in a conspiracy to defraud the United States Department ofEducation, and various colleges and universities of financial aid money. BobbieJean Chilsom, Sara Chilsom, Shawn Johnson, and Sharon Johnson were sentenced byUnited States District Judge Myron Thompson on Friday.

Bobbie Chilsom was sentenced to 24 months of imprisonmentfollowed by three years of supervised release for mail fraud. Bobbie was alsoordered to pay $276,734 in restitution. Sara Chilsom was sentenced to threeyears of probation for mail fraud and was ordered to pay $10,845 inrestitution. Shawn Johnson was sentenced to five years of probation, 12 monthsof home confinement, and ten weekends in jail for mail fraud. Shawn was alsoordered to pay $222,068 in restitution. Sharon Johnson was sentenced to fiveyears of probation, 12 months of home confinement, and three weekends in jailfor conspiracy to commit to defraud the United States. Sharon was ordered topay $397,963 in restitution.

From September 2008 to September 2012, the defendantsdefrauded the Department of Education and multiple colleges and universities ofapproximately $1,152,994 in Federal Student Assistance money. FSA money must beused by a student for tuition, university fees, books, supplies,transportation, or other educational and living expenses.

The defendants, as well as other individuals they recruitedfor this scheme, applied for financial aid but did not have a high schooldiploma or a general education development (GED) certificate. The defendantscreated false diplomas and used them to enroll into the schools. As a result,the Department of Education paid tuition, enrollment fees, and living expensesfor the defendants and other individuals.

After the money was received, the recruited individualswould pay the leaders of the conspiracy a percentage of the funds by mailingthem debit ref F

cards or refund checks. Evidence showed that the defendantsor the recruited individuals would not attend or would minimally attend thecourses they were signed up for. They also would not complete or minimallycomplete the course work. The funds received were used for personal items andto pay for personal expenses.

Including the four defendants listed above, a total of 13defendants were involved in the conspiracy. Previously sentenced individuals wereTelvin Brown, Sunquesha Gaston, Philanthia Roberts, Printice Johnson, ShirleyJohnson, Samuella McMillian, Edmond Lewis Harris, Jr., and Richard JamarPinkston, Jr. for mail fraud. Dennis Coleman was sentenced for conspiring todefraud the United States. All defendants are from Montgomery.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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