A federal judge has ordered a shuttered for-profit college to pay $20 million in damages and penalties to the government for defrauding the U.S. Department of Education.
âWilfredo Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, says in a news release that FastTrain College, based in Miami, and its owner, Alejandro Amor, submitted falsified documents to obtain student aid in connection with ineligible students.
The government sued the college and Amor for damages. Amor also has been convicted of criminal charges in connection with FastTrain and is serving a prison sentence.
At its peak, the government says, FastTrain operated seven Florida campuses in Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Duval counties. From at least January 2010 through June 2012, when FastTrain closed, FastTrain and Amor knowingly submitted fake high school diploma and GED information to receive improper federal Title IV funds.
Also, at Amor’s direction, FastTrain admissions employees instructed ineligible prospective students to lie on their federal student aid applications. As a result, FastTrain received millions of dollars of unearned student financial aid.
U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke found that FastTrain aggressively recruited vulnerable students and used fraud to make the government think they were eligible for federal aid and loans.
The judge awarded damages in favor of the United States in excess of $12 million. In addition, the Court imposed more than $10 million in civil penalties against the defendants.
“Alejandro Amor and his co-conspirators preyed on vulnerable men and women who sought educational assistance to improve their quality of life,” says Ferrer. “As a result, FastTrain defrauded the students out of a legitimate education and the U.S. government out of federal funds that were intended to help those in need of support.
In November 2015, after a 23-day trial, a jury convicted Amor of one count of conspiracy to steal government funds and 12 counts of theft of government funds. He was sentenced to 97 months in prison.