HOUSTON — A 39-year-old Richmond resident has been charged with fraudulently obtaining nearly $600,000 in financial aid funds from several Texas colleges and universities, U.S. attorney Jennifer Lowery said.
Emmanuel Finnih is expected to make his first appearance before US Investigating Judge Yvonne Y. Ho at 2 p.m. today.
A federal grand jury returned the seven-count indictment on September 28. He was taken into custody on September 30.
From or around 2017 to the present, Finnih allegedly aided and abetted or was aided and abetted by others to submit bogus applications for financial assistance. The charges allege he illegally obtained financial aid funds for more than 30 alleged students at eight Texas colleges and universities.
Finnih used other people’s personal identifiers to prepare, submit and sign false and fraudulent financial aid applications and promissory notes on their behalf, according to the indictment. Finnih allegedly used mailing addresses, phone numbers and email accounts he controlled to ensure that the Department of Education and the colleges sent all communications directly to him. The indictment alleges that he then obtained the financial aid repayments by wire transfer, check and prepaid debit cards sent either to mailing addresses or to bank accounts he had designated.
The charges further allege that Finnih aided and abetted or was aided and abetted by others in the aggravated identity theft of two alleged students. According to the indictment, he or others were also in fraudulent possession of identity documents – temporary driver’s licenses or identity cards – with the intention of illegally using or transferring these. documents.
Federal financial aid funds are intended to be used for educational purposes. However, the charges allege that Finnih received the funds for his personal benefit.
The actual loss to the United States would be over $595,000.
The indictment includes one count of theft of public funds, student financial aid fraud, and unlawful use or transfer of identity documents, as well as four counts of usurpation. aggravated identity.
If convicted of theft of public funds, Finnih faces up to 10 years in federal prison, while student financial aid fraud and illegal use or transfer of identity documents are each punishable. a five-year prison sentence. In addition, each of the counts of aggravated identity theft carries a two-year sentence which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
The Department of Education – Office of Inspector General led the investigation with assistance from the Lone Star College Police Department and the US Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shirin Hakimzadeh and Charles J. Escher are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal charge of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted in due process.