Three senior for-profit college executives were sentenced Tuesday on charges related to student financial aid and student visa fraud, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced.
Suresh Hiranandaney, Lalit Chabria and Anita Chabria were all executives at either Micropower Career Institute (MCI), a for-profit with five campuses in New Jersey and New York, or the Institute for Health Education (IHE), a New Jersey-based for-profit institution. They were charged with defrauding the U.S. Department of Education of $1 million in grants awarded to domestic students. “As part of this fraud,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release, “they falsified and manipulated documents to hide MCI’s failure to timely return financial aid money received by MCI for domestic students who had dropped out of MCI.”
The three executives were also charged with making more than $7 million in profits from a visa fraud scheme in which they collected tuition from international students who were not attending classes as required under the terms of their student visas. “Hiranandaney, Lalit Chabria, Anita Chabria and others fraudulently portrayed MCI and IHE to immigration authorities as legitimate institutes of higher learning where foreign students carried full course loads,” the news release states. “In reality, the majority of foreign students at MCI and IHE did not attend the required number of classes.”
Hiranandaney, MCI’s president, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, as was Lalit Chabria, MCI’s chief executive officer and IHE’s president. Anita Chabria, MCI’s vice president and director of a MCI campus in Mineola, N.Y., was sentenced to six months of home confinement. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken also ordered the three executives to pay $1 million in restitution for the financial aid fraud and forfeit $7,440,000 for the student visa fraud. Two other defendants in the case are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.
One of the two institutions, the Institute for Health Education, is still certified by the U.S. government to enroll international students.