Ex-Emory employee sentenced for stealing tuition from studentsMain Quad on Emory University's primary Druid Hills Campus. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons
A former Emory University employee will serve one year and six months in prison for pocketing $300,000 in student tuition money.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the sentence on July 23.
When Brenda Michael worked as an administrative assistant at the Emory University School of Nursing, she devised a scheme to convince students to deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees into her personal account.
According to a copy of the charge, Michael successfully pocketed $317,000 between August 2012 and January 2014.
“Beginning in August 2012, Michael began instructing students who had enrolled in the program to pay their tuition and fees by submitting payments via interstate wire to a specific PayPal account. Michael falsely represented to the students that the account was an Emory University account, when, in fact, the account belonged to Michael,” the court document says. “Michael kept the funds for her personal benefit instead of remitting the funds to Emory University.”
In one instance, she convinced as student to pay her almost $5,000 in tuition and fees.
Michael pleaded guilty to the charges on April 30, the press release says.
“Michael used her position at Emory to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in just over a year and a half,” Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn said in a press release. “Students trusted that this university employee was there to facilitate their enrollment. Had the defendant not been exposed by Emory, her deception could have caused even greater damage.”
Emory officials said they were pleased with the outcome.
“Emory University is satisfied with the outcome of this case and with the excellent work of the United States Attorney’s Office in prosecuting Ms. Michael for her crime,” Emory spokesperson Nancy Seideman said in the press release. “We take the security of our students’ financial information and thefts by employees very seriously and are pleased that we could work cooperatively with the United States Attorney’s Office in bringing the investigation to a successful conclusion.”
Michael was also sentenced to three years supervised release when she gets out of prison, and will have to pay $317,923.33 in restitution.