CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa --- A Waterloo man who defrauded the U.S. Department of Education was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Judge Linda Reade sentenced Roy Lee Turner III, 31, on Monday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.

In a plea agreement, Turner admitted that between January 2006 and July 2007, he participated in a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal student loan funds in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.

Turner was originally indicted on 32 counts of mail fraud, financial aid fraud and aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty to a single count of financial aid fraud in December.

As part of the plot, Turner recruited others to sign up for classes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny and applied for federal financial aid, according to court records.

They applied for the federal student aid intending to use the funds for non-educational purposes, and some of the applications stated the applicants has earned GEDs or high school diplomas, when that wasn't the case, records state.

Financial aid funds that were not used by Kirkwood and DMACC for tuition and fees were mailed to Turner and others at addresses in Iowa City and Dubuque. They used the proceeds from the checks for their own, non-educational, purposes. Court records allege Turner received a portion of the balance checks, and the other applicants received the remainder.

At sentencing, the court found Turner and others fraudulently caused the U.S. Department of Education to issue more than $143,000 in student aid principal. Of that amount, Turner and other participants in the scheme received more than $122,000.

Turner's prison term will be followed by three years’ supervised release. A special assessment of $100 was imposed, and he was ordered to make a total of $140,770.34 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Education, Kirkwood Community College, Des Moines Area Community College, and North East Iowa Community College. There is no parole in the federal system.

Turner was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on May 21, 2012.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter Deegan and was investigated by the United States Department of Education.

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

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