Two Louisiana College students have been indicted in federal court, accused of conspiring to steal student CARES money from the private Baptist college in Pineville.
D'Quincy Marquis Jones, 23, of Baton Rouge and Hayden Philip Breaux, 21, of Houma, were named in the federal indictment on charges of one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and five counts of identity theft.
The indictment alleges that Breaux and Jones were involved in a fraudulent scheme to obtain emergency financial aid grants offered to colleges as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress in March 2020. As part of the CARES Act, funds were given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
Louisiana College in Pineville was one of the schools that received emergency funding for its students.
It is alleged in the indictment that between June 5, 2020 and June 20, 2020, Breaux and Jones conspired to fraudulently obtain CARES Act funds for their own use. Breaux and Jones and other members of the conspiracy used personally identifiable information (“PII”), specifically, the Louisiana College Student Identification Numbers and passwords of other students, to access the Louisiana College Online Student Portal (“the Portal”) to apply for CARES Act emergency financial aid grants in the names of individuals and direct the grants to specific bank accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy.
The indictment alleges that the members of the conspiracy used the Louisiana College Student Identification Numbers and passwords of nine people to access the Portal, apply for, and direct payment of CARES Act emergency financial aid from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
All told, the conspiracy netted its members about $5,600, according to the indictment. The money was sent to various bank accounts, with the money split various ways among those involved, the indictment alleges.
LC's website lists Jones as a member of the 2019 Louisiana College football team. The website also indicates that Breaux has been on the dean's list of the college for at least two years.
The FBI and U.S. Department of Education – Office of Inspector General are conducting the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. Reeg is prosecuting the case.
Louisiana College sent the following statement on the indictment:
"Since the April 2020 issuance of federal funding for the COVID-19 pandemic, Louisiana College has followed the U.S. Department of Education requirements for awarding and distributing emergency grants to students. In June 2020, LC accounting personnel discovered possible instances of fraudulent activity by grant recipients and immediately informed appropriate law enforcement officials. Louisiana College continues to support and cooperate fully with the ongoing federal investigation."