Three more charged in BAE education scam; total now 23 with more likely
And then there were 23.
That’s the number of former BAE Systems now facing federal wire-fraud charges in connection with an education-fraud scheme following the three latest indictments handed down Tuesday by a grand jury in Fort Wayne’s U.S. District Court.
Charged this week were Aleece Good, Shynell Hutchins and Detrick Tubbs, and more indictments are considered likely in a scheme that could have involved between 45 and 50 local employees of the aerospace firm.
As The News-Sentinel first reported in January, the indicted former employees are charged with exploiting a 2013 company policy that paid workers in advance for the cost of tuition. Before the policy was changed last year, employees were required to provide proof of course registration and a tuition bill, and the company would then provide the funds needed to pay for the courses. Employees were also required to provide a completion certificate at the end of the course and meet certain grade requirements. If those requirements were not met, the employee would have to reimburse the company. The employees allegedly used proprietary company software to submit fraudulent documentation across state lines to BAE computers in New Hampshire, resulting in the federal wire-fraud charges.
As The News-Sentinel reported earlier this month, Latonya Smith became the first defendant to plead guilty in the case, accepting a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine and agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors and to testify if necessary.
The amount allegedly stolen by Good, Hutchins and Tubbs was not immediately available, but the previous 20 defendants were charged with fraud totaling about $523,000. BAE operates a plant at Airport Expressway and Ardmore Avenue.