Former Virginia school administrator gets 5 years for fraud

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Richmond woman was sentenced to more than five years in prison on Tuesday for leading a year-long scheme to defraud federal and state officials of at least $230,000 in investment funds. student financial aid, a prosecutor said.

Court documents showed that Kiesha Pope, 48, was the director of financial aid at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College from 2006. Pope was involved in a scheme to defraud the US Department of Education, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the college education fund from 2011 to 2017, U.S. attorney Jessica Aber said. Media reports Pope pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud.

Pope expanded or increased financial aid eligibility for people, often his family members, who were not eligible for financial aid, Aber said. From there, Pope ordered at least four co-conspirators to send her the majority of the funds, which she spent on personal expenses, including a Disney Cruise Line vacation.

Headteachers confronted Pope in October 2017 about his relationship with various academically ineligible students who the college realized were receiving high amounts of financial aid, according to a news release. Pope claimed not to know the students, who were actually his son, goddaughter and cousin. Pressed to provide supporting documentation to justify structuring Pope’s financial aid, Pope resigned, Aber said.

Martha K. Merrill