Louisiana man who took out 250 student loans to gamble faces jail

Posted: March 21, 2022, 7:59 a.m.

Last update: March 21, 2022, 7:59 a.m.

A Baton Rouge, Louisiana man who took out more than 250 student loans, in part to fund an excessive habit of casino gambling, has been found guilty of 15 counts of wire fraud, fraud using finance and money laundering.

Elliott Sterling enrolled more than 250 people at Baton Rouge Community College, above, most of whom were unqualified to attend. (Image: Baton Rouge Community College)

Federal prosecutors say Elliott Sterling used false papers to enroll individuals in classes at Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) and illegally obtained $1.4 million in federal financial aid on their behalf. He ‘wasted’ $256,000 of the money in casinos in Louisiana, Nevada and Pennsylvania, according to court documents.

But the 33-year-old, who is representing himself, told the jury during closing arguments that he was being persecuted to ‘make money’, according to the lawyera Louisiana newspaper.

“Today is the day I truly believe justice will be served,” he added with gusto.

The jury unanimously found him guilty on all 15 counts.

Students exploited

Earlier, jurors heard that Sterling used fake diplomas and other fake documents on Free Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications for students who didn’t qualify for loans or tuition. of the DCCB to which they were registered. Some of the “students” were incarcerated at the time of the request, prosecutors said.

Through his company, Sterling Educational Consulting, LLC, the defendant told some students he could help them get financial aid that they wouldn’t need to repay. Typically, students had no access to their FAFSA accounts, and Sterling kept most of the loan for himself.

Most of the students who came into contact with Sterling told federal investigators they were unaware they had applied for the loans and were surprised to learn that Sterling had signed notes promising they would repay the money. Prosecutors said Sterling sometimes posed as a student and paid others to pose as BRCC students.

The defendant was not helping people, he was helping himself,” prosecutor Elizabeth White told the jury. “The accused exploited the students; he used them. He chose people he could exploit.

“Who’s stuck with the bill?” asked his colleague, René Salomon. “The students he manipulated, as well as the taxpayers.”

fake COVID loan

Sterling was also found guilty of fraudulently obtaining a $90,000 COVID-19 support loan for Sterling Educational Consulting from the Small Business Administration. It turned out that he had falsified the company’s turnover figures at her request.

The FBI recovered approximately $422,600 of the proceeds from the student loan program, which the jury ordered forfeited. Sterling is expected to be sentenced on July 7.

James V. Hayes