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PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Four women have been sentenced for their roles in a federal student loan fraud scheme.
The scheme orchestrated by Elizabeth Meza, 33, Analisa Delgado, 39, Denise Wheeler, 44, and Sandra Lopez, 25 during the 2010-11 school year resulted in more than $150,000 in fraudulent federal student aid.
U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake sentenced the leader of the scheme, Meza, to 30 months in federal prison. Meza was found guilty of falsely enrolling straw students in online college courses at Rio Salado College then submitting online applications for federal student aid based on those false applications. The student funds that Meza received were used on herself and for others involved in the scheme. Meza will also have to serve three years of supervised release after her prison sentence plus she was ordered to pay $44,450 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Education.
Delgado was already serving a prison sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections when she took part in the scheme. She has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, plus pay $11,972 in restitution. Delgado's role in the scheme was to supply the names and personal identity information of fellow inmates.
Both Wheeler and Lopez provided straw student information to Meza or Delgado. Wheeler was sentenced to three years of probation while Lopez was sentenced to five years probation.
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