Nine Indicted On Charges Involving Embezzlement Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Financial Aid Funds From A Higher Education Institution

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Andrea Mitchell (53, Tampa), Lester Best (54, Tampa), Gloria Gutierrez (51, Lakeland), Sylvester Robinson (57, Temple Terrace), Neukenya Jokines (52, Riverview), Kinya Lillie (52, Tampa), Jewel Jordan (52, Brandon), Andre Wright (54, Hinesville, GA) and Rozaundra Lillie (53, Tampa) with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mitchell is further charged with aggravated identity theft. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 in federal prison. If convicted for aggravated identity theft, Mitchell faces a mandatory minimum of 2 years’ imprisonment, in addition to the sentence imposed for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictment also notifies the individuals that the United States intends to forfeit all assets which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense.

According to the indictment, Mitchell served as a financial services manager at a higher education institution in the Middle District of Florida. Mitchell and her coconspirators used her position to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid. In order to steal the funds, Mitchell stole the identities of hundreds of current and formerly enrolled students at the higher education institution, then issued checks to coconspirators using those funds. The coconspirators cashed the checks at various financial institutions and shared the proceeds.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty. 

This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Secret Service. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Candace Garcia Rich.