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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Durham Public School Employee Pleads Guilty To Federal Student Aid Fraud

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Jasmine Crossland, of Durham, NC, pleaded guilty in federal court on October 9, 2014, to making false statements on student financial aid applications. Crossland is currently employed as a Teacher's Assistant in the Durham Public School System.

Ripley Rand, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, and Mark A. Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Technology Crimes Division, made the announcement after the pleas were accepted by United States District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder.

Jasmine Crossland’s sentencing is scheduled for February 17, 2015. Jasmine Crossland faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and full payment of restitution.

Jasmine Crossland's guilty plea in this matter is an admission of the facts contained in the Criminal Information by which she was indicted. The Factual Basis of the Indictment states Jasmine Crossland attended North Carolina Central University (NCCU) as a student from 2007 to 2012. During that period, Jasmine Crossland was awarded $67,405 in U.S. Federal Education grants or loans, and $54,388 in tuition grants from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Government of the District of Columbia (“OSSE”) that were used to pay costs associated with attending NCCU. Over $39,000 of the grant money was refunded directly to Jasmine Crossland by NCCU. For each year Jasmine Crossland attended NCCU between 2008 and 2012, she filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the U.S. Department of Education and reported that her mother, Donnica Crossland, had no income. During that same period, Jasmine Crossland filed applications for education grants with the D.C. OSSE, and in those applications stated Donnica Crossland was not employed and received no income. Jasmine Crossland also submitted a Federal Student Aid Verification worksheet containing false information to NCCU and provided additional false documents in support of the worksheet, including fraudulent copies of an IRS Form 1040 that she purported to be signed by her father. When interviewed by federal agents concerning this matter, Jasmine Crossland provided a sworn written affidavit denying any fraudulent activity.

To help obtain OSSE grants for Jasmine Crossland’s use at NCCU, and to help obtain OSSE grants for Jasmine Crossland’s sister for use at a Virginia college, Donnica Crossland affirmed and signed applications on five separate occasions falsely stating that she was not employed and received no income. For each year during the period from December 2006 through December 2012, however, Donnica Crossland received substantial income, earning a total of $521,819 from her employment with the U.S. Department of Transportation. On September 18, 2014, Donnica Crossland pled guilty in Richmond, VA, to making false statements to federal agents in connection with an investigation of student aid fraud. In total, the Crossland family fraudulently obtained $234,981 from the U.S. Department of Education and OSSE.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General commenced an investigation of the Crosslands’ aid applications and supporting documents. On July 30, 2013, Department of Education Inspector General agents interviewed Donnica Crossland. During the interview, Donnica Crossland attempted to conceal her involvement by knowingly and falsely stating that she had filled out some of Jasmine Crossland’s paperwork during the summer prior to her first year of college, but had nothing to do with their financial aid applications thereafter. On November 7, 2013, Department of Education Inspector General agents again interviewed Donnica Crossland. During the interview, Donnica Crossland attempted to conceal her involvement by knowingly and falsely stating that she had no knowledge of any of the financial assistance applications submitted by Jasmine Crossland after 2007.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Inman is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-CR-381.

Updated March 19, 2015