Paso Robles woman sentenced to six years in prison for fraud
November 21, 2011
A Paso Robles woman was sentenced this morning to 72 months in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to defraud the United States Department of Education out of a $35 million grant, according to a U.S. Attorney’s office press release.
Jean Michele Cross, 60, was found guilty of mail fraud, forging a writing to obtain money from the United States and making false statements. She also concealed a 15 percent fee she had negotiated in exchange for submitting a successful grant application.
The application was for a 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program that was authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 for the Indio Youth Task Force, a non-profit, community-based organization in the Coachella Valley.
United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips also ordered the Cross to pay a $60,000 fine.
“The government has determined that one way to improve the lives and education of disadvantaged children is through the funding of programs like those covered under the 21st CCLC program,” prosecutors wrote in sentencing papers filed with the court. Cross “has taken advantage of that stream of taxpayer dollars and has diverted substantial sums into her own pocket.
“Here, she intended to divert more than $5 million earmarked for needy children into her own pocket by fraud and deceit.”
In imposing the six-year sentence, judge Phillips noted that Cross had obstructed justice by giving false testimony during her trial. In addition, the judge said her actions resulted in many needy children missing out on valuable programs.”
The case against Cross is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Education, Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.