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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Monday, May 4, 2015

Atwater Resident Pleads Guilty To Student Aid Fraud And Identity Theft

FRESNO, Calif. — Sherise Lanelle Woolridge, 33, of Atwater, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft for a scheme to obtain student aid grant funds and loans, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Woolridge participated in a scheme to defraud the United States Department of Education of student aid grants and loans. She submitted false financial aid applications to Axia College at the University of Phoenix and Capella University on behalf of students who did not intend to attend either school. She used stolen or wrongfully obtained personal identifying information for a person who did not know her identity would be used to apply for college financial aid. As a result of the scheme to defraud, more than $200,000 in grants and loans were disbursed.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General. United States Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.

Woolridge is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on August 3, 2015. Woolridge faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for mail fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 1:13-cr-404 LJO
Updated May 4, 2015