WASHINGTON – An Illinois woman pleaded guilty today to illegally accessing numerous confidential student loan files, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division announced. Charlotte M. Robinson, 46, of Dolton, Ill., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox in the Northern District of Illinois to a one-count criminal information charging her with unauthorized computer access. Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22, 2011.
According to court documents, Robinson worked as a full-time employee in the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Division of the Department of Education, where her responsibilities included reviewing and processing student loan complaints within the FSA Office of the Ombudsman. In pleading guilty, Robinson admitted that she had access to the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS), which contained confidential federal student loan records maintained by the Department of Education. These student loan records included, among other information, the borrower’s full name, date of birth, Social Security number, type of federal loan, loan balances, place of enrollment and loan servicer. Confidential records maintained in NSLDS are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and access by Department of Education employees is strictly limited to official government duties.
Robinson admitted that between April 2006 and May 2009, she logged into NSLDS, which became fully automated in approximately 2006, and repeatedly searched for and viewed the confidential student loan records of several hundred people, including musicians, actors, family members, friends and other individuals. Robinson admitted that she had no official government reason to access and to view these student loan records applications, and that her sole purpose in accessing and viewing these records was idle curiosity.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. This case was investigated by the Department of Education Office of Inspector General.