Martin C. Carlson, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced earlier this week that Patricia Harrington, age 45, formerly of Liverpool, New York, was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge William W. Caldwell to one year, and one day, in federal prison, along with 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to make restitution of $139,800 to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency as a result of her guilty pleas to involvement in two separate student loan fraud and identity theft schemes which took place in 2008 and 2009.
According to Mr. Carlson, in 2008 officials at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency notified federal authorities that Harrington was using the identities of third parties, including relatives, to fraudulently apply for more than $130,000 in federal student loan benefits from private vendors. Acting upon this information the United States Secret Service conducted an investigation which led to her arrest and indictment on identity theft charges in October of 2008. Harrington pleaded guilty in December of 2008 to this identity theft offense.
But while out on bail awaiting sentencing for this charge, the United States Secret Service learned that she was once again attempting to obtain student loan benefits through identity theft and the submission of fraudulent loan applications. Federal officials charged Harrington with this second identity theft scheme in April of 2009, and she was ordered detained following her guilty plea in this second identity theft case.
In announcing these convictions, Mr. Carlson noted that the sentencing “sends a clear message to those who may be tempted to engage in identity theft to defraud government programs. The costs of these crimes are real and substantial, and those who commit these crimes face imprisonment.”
These cases were investigated by the Harrisburg and Syracuse offices of the U.S. Secret Service, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, and the Syracuse Police Department. Mr. Carlson praised these agencies for their tireless investigation of this identity theft case.
Source: USAO, Middle District of Pennsylvania