News and Press Releases

Cedar Rapids Woman Pleads Guilty To Student Loan And Bank Fraud

May 16, 2012

Contact: Peter Deegan

A woman who executed a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal student loans and who defrauded a local credit union pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Brenda Cortez, age 27, from Cedar Rapids, was convicted of one count of financial aid fraud and one count of bank fraud.

At the guilty plea hearing, Cortez admitted that, in about October 2007, she participated in a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal student loan money. Also at the plea hearing, Cortez admitted that, between about May 2009 and November 2010, she defrauded a local credit union. According to an information filed on May 4, 2012, Cortez allegedly defrauded the credit union by concealing payments on accounts receivable of her company, Rightway Enterprises, LLC. The payments had allegedly been pledged as collateral for loans to the business. Rather than deposit the payments at the local credit union as she had allegedly agreed to do, Cortez allegedly cashed the checks at a check cashing establishment and used the funds for her own purposes.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Cortez remains free on bond pending sentencing. Cortez faces a possible maximum sentence of 35 years’ imprisonment without the possibility of parole; a fine of up to (a) twice the gross gain resulting from the offenses, (b) twice the gross loss resulting from the offenses, or (c) $1,250,000; a mandatory special assessment of $200; and a term of supervised release of up to 8 years.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr. and was investigated by the United States Department of Education and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Court file information is available at The case file number is CR12-32.



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