ALBANY, Ga. -- Princess Eatmon, 25, formerly a resident of Albany, was sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Louis Sands for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore said in a news release Thursday evening.
Eatmon was sentenced by Sands to serve 48 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution to the U.S. Department of Education in the amount of $139,087.
On May 7, 2012, Eatmon pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. During the period from Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 30, 2011, she is alleged to have fraudulently applied for and received student loans and grants from the Department of Education on behalf of at least 27 bogus students.
The purported students were real people in the Albany area who knowingly gave their personal information to Eatmon in order to obtain federal student aid by fraud. Neither Eatmon nor the "students" had any intention of actually furthering their education, officials with the U.S. Attorney's Office say.
Using her home computer and the Internet, Eatmon enrolled other persons in online universities and applied for and received federal student loans and grants for them. She would, for a short period of time, turn in some course work on behalf of the "students" -- who had no intention of doing the course work themselves -- and then drop out of the course upon receipt of the federal funds, prosecutors say.
"The sole purpose of enrolling the 'students' in on-line universities was to defraud the federal government into sending monies to Ms. Eatmon and her co-conspirators," the release said.
Two other defendants have been convicted of conspiring with Eatmon in the same scheme. Kevinall Wheeler pleaded guilty on Aug. 13, 2012, and Dontreal Jenkins, who was convicted by a jury of conspiring with Eatmon, as well as on other offenses, on Jan. 11, 2013.
On Oct. 15, 2012, while awaiting sentencing in the case, Eatmon was charged separately with theft of U.S. Treasury checks and aggravated identity theft in connection with a different online tax scheme. Due to the new offense, Eatmon's bond has been revoked and she has remained in custody.
Sentencing on the second set of charges will be held at a later date, officials say.
The case was jointly investigated by the Dougherty County Police Department, the Department of Education, the Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane.