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February 15, 2011

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that Theodis Dixson, 34, of Pine Bluff AR, pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Dixson admitted to conspiring with his former business partner, Eric Burnett, in a scheme in which Dixson and Burnett recruited various students and co-signors from the Pine Bluff area to obtain student loans and give the majority of the loan proceeds to Dixson and Burnett. Burnett previously pled guilty to the same charge and has not yet been sentenced.

Beginning in or about March of 2007 and continuing through until March of 2008, Dixson and Burnett agreed to apply for student loans and to assist others in applying for student loans knowing that the loans would not be used for educational purposes and intending to divide the loan proceeds among the student, the co-signor, and Dixson and Burnett’s company, T&E Development. Dixson and Burnett verbally assured the students and the co-signors that they would not be responsible for paying the loans back, even though the loans were in the students’ and co-signors’ names. Dixson and Burnett intended to use the majority of the student loan funds to buy distressed properties, fix them up, and sell them for a profit. However, Dixson admitted to using the proceeds of the scheme to buy a house in Whitehall, which ultimately went into foreclosure and to buy an Escalade and an Audi.

The penalty for mail fraud is 5 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. Dixson agreed today that the restitution he owes is just under $920,000 to the current holders of various defaulted student loans. The actual sentence will be determined by the Court at a later date.

The case was investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Hoey and Stephanie Mazzanti.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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