Six former employees of a non-profit post-secondary education institute were caught in a conspiracy to swindle millions of dollars from federal financial aid programs. The six ex-employees on the Chicago Campus of the Center for Employment Training (CET), including the director of the campus, Marie Pickett, 59, are charged with conspiracy and wire fraud.
“We’ve been in operation for 50 years,” said CET President and CEO Hermelinda Sapien, when Chicago News reached out to the California-based education institute. “We had never encountered this kind of misconduct.”
According to Sapien, the criminal activities of the six former employees were uncovered by an internal-monitoring system that visits campuses, verifies data, and interviews employers, staff, and students. When the scheme, which included enrolling dead and make-believe students to earn financial aid, was revealed to the Inspector General, the monitoring systems were “strengthened” as a result.
“While some people were hurt in the process, and weren’t helped, a lot of people did receive training,” Sapien said. “We have verification of that. They were gainfully trained and placed in jobs. And so we stand by our good work and our reputation, and we will continue to do that.”
Arraignments in federal court concerning this case have not yet been scheduled.