Covering Louisiana

Oct 25, 2013 11:34 AM by AP (PHOTO: MGN ONLINE)

Woman receives probation for financial-aid fraud

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A 46-year-old Marrero woman who had pleaded guilty in July to federal financial-aid fraud has been sentenced to three years of probation by U.S. District Judge Lance Africk.

The Times-Picayune reports Shanera Washington-Sylve was charged in June with lying about her marital status, claiming to be single when filling out an application for financial aid for her daughter. She got over $23,000 in aid, which she has started to pay back.

Because she had worked in financial-aid offices at Delgado Community College and Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Africk said Thursday during sentencing she should have known better.

In addition to being illegal, Africk said, Washington-Sylve's fraudulent application could have put her daughter in legal jeopardy, and could have taken the money from a student who needed it to go to school.

"You made a tremendous mistake," Africk said. "This will follow you for the rest of your life."

The maximum penalty -- rarely meted out to first offenders like Washington-Sylve -- is five years in prison, a $20,000 fine and three years of supervised probation, plus a $100 special assessment.

She already has paid back $17,000, her attorney Jason Williams said before Africk pronounced sentence.


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