News and Press Releases


December 9, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Yessyka Santana, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, Investigation Services, Southeastern Region, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced that Ricardo Pradel, 31, of Miami, was charged in a one count indictment with federal financial aid fraud, in violation of Title 20, United States Code, Section 1097.

If convicted of this charge, the defendant faces a maximum statutory term of up to five (5) years’ imprisonment.

As alleged in the indictment and other court documents, between September 2007 and April 2010, Ricardo Pradel, worked as an admissions counselor for the American Institute, a for-profit trade school in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. During this time, Pradel is alleged to have created false high school diplomas that were placed into prospective student files. These files were used to gain admission and to support false applications for federal financial aid. As a direct result of these fraudulent documents, ineligible students at the American Institute received approximately $156,000 in federal financial aid to which they were not entitled.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their work on this case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton.

An indictment is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

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