LaPlace woman charged with theft of more than $280K in federal student aid

Published 3:09 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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NEW ORLEANS – A LaPlace women was recently charged with theft of more than $280,000 in federal student aid, according to United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser.

Strasser announced that Ashly Howard, 33, of LaPlace was charged Nov. 24 by a Bill of Information for Theft of Government Funds and Identity Theft.

According to the Bill of Information, beginning in 2018 and through 2019, Howard fraudulently submitted Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and/or Master Promissory Notes (MPN) in individuals’ names in an effort to obtain federal financial aid. Howard is alleged to have facilitated the submission of 30 applications for admission to Nunez Community College in Chalmette, Louisiana in these individuals’ names. Howard allegedly facilitated the creation of debit cards in these individuals’ names so that the student loan proceeds could be disbursed. She also allegedly accepted the grants and student loans and used the federal financial aid funds under the names of these individuals; some with, and some without, their knowledge or consent.

Accordingly, the Bill of Information states Howard fraudulently received approximately $280,000 in Department of Education funds she was not entitled to receive.

Strasser reiterated that the Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, Howard faces a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, followed by up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and a mandatory $100 special assessment.

U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn McHugh is handling the prosecution of this case.