RICHMOND, Va. — A federal grand jury yesterday returned an indictment charging a Richmond woman with orchestrating a nearly decade-long scheme to defraud the United States Department of Education and the Commonwealth of Virginia student financial aid funds.
According to the indictment, from around 2006 to 2017, Kiesha Pope, 47, was the director of financial aid at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College (JSRCC), a public community college serving the greater Richmond area. Pope allegedly used his access to JSRCC’s financial aid systems to increase eligibility for financial aid to co-conspirators, who were friends and family of Pope and who were not otherwise eligible for benefits. financial aid from the JSRCC. Pope reportedly made deals with these same co-conspirators to receive a portion of the improperly obtained financial aid funds as compensation. Pope reportedly spent these financial aid funds on a variety of his personal expenses, including repairs to his personal vehicle, retail purchases, and expenses for his minor daughter.
The indictment alleges that, from 2011 to 2017, Pope provided financial assistance to his son, knowing he was not attending JSRCC during that time. In another instance, Pope also allegedly secured financial assistance for her ex-fiancé from 2010 or circa 2015 or circa 2015 while he was serving time in prison and not attending JSRCC. To cover up his scheme, Pope allegedly falsified the rationale for the financial aid. In one alleged case, Pope falsified medical documents and financial aid documents indicating that his goddaughter, for whom Pope also secured financial aid, did not meet academic eligibility requirements due to a diagnosis of cancer. breast, despite knowing that her goddaughter had not been diagnosed with cancer.
The indictment further alleges that from September to October 2017 or thereabouts, JSRCC management confronted Pope about his relationship with various academically ineligible students receiving high amounts of financial aid. In these conversations, Pope claimed not to know these students when these students were, in fact, Pope’s son, goddaughter and cousin. Pope allegedly claimed that all of these students had a supporting rationale for receiving continued financial aid, but when asked for the documentation, Pope resigned from the JSRCC.
Pope is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Pope faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of one of the fraud offences, and a mandatory two-year prison term, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, if convicted of aggravated identity theft. Actual sentences for federal crimes are generally lower than the maximum sentences. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Stanley M. Meador, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Richmond; Michael C. Westfall, State Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Virginia; and Terry Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General, Eastern Region, made the announcement.
Assistant US Attorney Avi Panth is pursuing the case.
A copy of this press release can be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia website or on PACER by searching for case #3:22-cr-9.
An indictment is just an accusation. The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.