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Press Release

Chelsea Man Pleads Guilty To Student Financial Aid Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
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BOSTON – A Chelsea man pleaded guilty yesterday to submitting fraudulent financial aid applications to support his daughter’s Harvard College tuition.

Joseph N. Fonge, 59, pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for March 4, 2015.

Fonge filed fraudulent financial information, including false federal tax returns, in support of applications for financial aid for his daughter while she was a student at Harvard College from 2010 through 2012. Based on the applications, Fonge’s daughter was approved for aid totaling more than $160,000 over the three school years. The same false information was used to support a financial aid application in the amount of $46,600 for Fonge’s second daughter who was attending the University of Rochester in 2010.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Brian Hickey, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, Regions I & II, made the announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Updated December 17, 2014