Paso Robles woman indicted for $35 million fraud scheme
September 3, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
A Federal Grand Jury has indicted a Paso Robles woman on charges she submitting a forged application in an attempt to obtain $35 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Education, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Public Affairs Officer Thom Mrozek.
Jean Michele Cross, 57, is also accused of concealing a 15 percent fee she had negotiated for successfully submitting grant applications.
The indictment alleges Cross submitted the forged grant application on March 12, 2007 on behalf of the Indio Youth Task Force (IYTF). The Department of Education awarded the non-profit $6.9 million per year, over five years, in December 2007.
“In April 2008, after improprieties about the grant application process surfaced, IYTF returned the check,” Mrozek said in a press release. “The indictment alleges Cross altered and forged signatures and documents.”
In addition, investigators from multiple agencies including the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Education allege Cross forged and altered documents from several other educational entities including Desert Sands Unified School District, Perris Elementary School District, and Nuview Unified School District.
Cross has been charged with forgery, mail fraud, and making false statements. She faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in federal prison if convicted.