BAKER, LA (WAFB) - The former owner of a Baker cosmetology school has been sentenced after a multi-year scheme involving fraud against the U.S. Department of Education and stealing Pell Grant funds.
On Friday, January 19, Alden Hall, 58, was sentenced after a four-day trial in the summer of 2017. Hall was sentenced to serve 2.5 years in prison and was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $276,220, as well as a $500 special assessment. Hall will also be required to serve a 2-year term of supervised release after she gets out of jail.
During the trial, the jury unanimously returned guilty verdicts on all five counts, which included three counts of theft of government funds, one count of fraudulently obtaining financial assistance funds, and one count of money laundering.
Hall was the owner and CEO of Alden's School of Cosmetology and Alden's School of Barbering in Baker. Evidence showed Hall engaged in a scheme to steal government funds by causing misrepresentations to be submitted to the Department of Education. For example, Hall represented to the department that certain students were enrolled in Pell Grant-approved programs when Hall actually knew those programs did not qualify for Pell Grants.
Hall also caused forged documents to be submitted as part of some students' financial aid packages and caused misrepresentations to the department about how many hours certain students had attended class and their standing at the school, when those students had in fact never attended class.
Through this scheme, Hall fraudulently obtained more than $270,000 in federal funds.
Then in December of 2011, as money was being generated from Hall's scheme, she engaged in money laundering by transferring some of the criminally-obtained money from a bank account to a check issued to herself.
"This defendant - over several years - systematically used her position of authority and trust with her students to fraudulently steal funds meant to educate underprivileged students. Today, she has been held accountable for her fraudulent scheme and her efforts to conceal her criminal conduct. It is our hope that this sentence strikes a chord with anyone else who may be tempted to steal from the Department of Education. I sincerely appreciate the hard work of the federal and state agencies, and the prosecutors from this office, who worked as a team to bring this defendant's sophisticated and long-running scheme to an end," said Acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson.