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Florida woman accused of defrauding college program

A woman who once worked for a company that provided customer service for the Florida Prepaid College Board has been indicted on mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and identity theft charges. A federal grand jury handed down a seven-count indictment on June 4. The 30-year-old Tallahassee resident’s trial is scheduled to begin on July 29. She faces up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges. The identity theft charge carries an additional consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

Federal prosecutors claim that the woman took approximately $42,000 from the Florida Prepaid College Program without permission over a six-month period beginning in July 2018. According to court records, she accessed confidential files and changed personal details such as addresses and telephone numbers to ensure that refund checks would be sent to her instead of beneficiaries and account holders. She is also accused of cancelling accounts without permission in an attempt to conceal her alleged activities.

Federal investigators became involved because the allegedly fraudulent refund checks were sent using the U.S. Postal Service. Prosecutors say the woman cashed some of the checks herself and gave others to associates to cash. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was assisted during the investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.

When presented with facts such as these, criminal defense attorneys with experience in cases involving white-collar crimes may study the documents handed over during the discovery process closely. When the evidence against their clients is made up mainly of documents that could be difficult to explain, attorneys could suggest avoiding a trial by entering into a negotiated plea arrangement. However, if the evidence against their clients is less than convincing, attorneys may suggest arguing the facts of the case before a jury.

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