GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Brandon Kenon Rogers, 31-years-old, of Grand Rapids, pled guilty to student loan and tax fraud. Rogers’s wire fraud scheme involved aggravated identity theft and ultimately defrauded the U.S. Department of Education of approximately $150,000. His filing of false tax returns using other people’s information led to the tax fraud conviction.
During his plea hearing before Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green, Brandon Rogers admitted to defrauding the U.S. Department of Education by obtaining the identity information of others and posing as those individuals while applying online for Student Loans and Pell Grants in their names. He also enrolled online in local community colleges, including Grand Rapids Community College and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, using those same identities.
Rogers’s aid applications were approved, and as a result, he received loans and grants and used them for his own purposes without actually attending the classes as required. Rogers further admitted he also used the personal identity information he obtained to file bogus tax returns seeking refunds in the name of others. He told the court that he would assist the government to locate and prosecute others engaged in the same activity.
Wire fraud carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison plus other penalties. Aggravated Identity Theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term, which must be served after the completion of any other sentence. Income tax fraud carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison plus other penalties. Sentencing on the matter will be held before U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney at a date and time to be determined.
U.S. Attorney Birge advised that: “These loan and grant programs are for students who want to better themselves with an education and obviously not for those who would take advantage to simply line their pockets. Rogers didn’t actually attend his classes, but he is learning a lesson in criminal justice that should serve as a warning to others.”
The Grand Rapids Community College Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy VerHey is handling the prosecution.