RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Three women; two from Apple Valley and one from Highland were arrested for fraudulently collecting over $1 million in financial aid. The three, face up to 300 years in prison if convicted.
The federal student aid was collected for 235 “students”, most of whom never attended any classes. Some were filed under names of stolen identities and at least two were filed on behalf of inmates in California State prisons. The 21-count indictment charges the three defendants with fraud against the United States Department of Education, claiming the “students” would attend Fullerton College, as well as other schools.
The three defendants arrested this morning are:
- Sparkle Shorale Nelson, 32, of Highland;
- Shykeena Monique Johnson, 31, a.k.a. “Shy,” of Apple Valley; and
- Jerrika Eldrena Lashay Johnson, 37, a.k.a. “Muffin,” “Big Sis,” and “Jerrika Carter,” of Apple Valley.
The scheme was discovered when Nelson used a financial aid debit card in a prisoners name to make a $370 payment to her Southern California Edison account. In order to get the student aid, the women obtained personal information including names and social security numbers. They used this information to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online in 2013 and 2014. Financial aid was approved for the “straw students”. “After Fullerton College and other schools deducted student fees, the schools disbursed money to the “students” via debit cards that were mailed to the defendants and their co-
conspirators, the indictment alleges,” U.S. Dept. of Justice officials.
At least $1,089,856 was dispersed by the U.S. Department of Education to Fullerton College for the 235 “straw students” associated with these three women and their scheme. Approximately $977,792 of the money was placed on debit cards sent to the three defendants and their associates. The three women are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and 11 counts of wire fraud. Nelson, Johnson and Carter each face additional counts of aggravated identity theft and financial aid fraud.
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- Sparkle Shorale Nelson: Facebook