JC couple plead guilty to student loan scam

A Jefferson City man and woman pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to engaging in a bank fraud scheme in which they unlawfully received more than $100,000 in student loans under their child’s name.

Lisa Kay Baker, 53, and David Waymon Baker, 56, each pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to two counts of bank fraud. Lisa and David Baker (who at the time of the criminal conduct was employed by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights) were married during the criminal scheme, but divorced in 2009.

By pleading guilty, Lisa and David Baker each admitted that they received 11 student loans, totaling $102,088, in the name of their child (identified in the indictment as “RLB”) without his/her knowledge or consent from July 2005 to September 2007. Each application that was submitted was filled out by at least one or both of the defendants, and then one or the other (or a third person at their direction) forged the signature of RLB.

RLB attended William Woods University from 2003 through 2007, then graduated from the University of Missouri with a master’s degree in 2009. RLB obtained student loans from Sallie Mae to pay for tuition, room and board, and books for both undergraduate and master’s degrees. Sallie Mae submitted the proceeds from RLB’s student loans directly to the schools RLB was attending; her parents did not help RLB pay for any college expenses.

At the end of 2011, RLB began receiving telephone calls from a collection agency, claiming that payments were not being made on RLB’s student loans. Examining a credit report in January 2012, RLB found multiple student loans in the credit history that had not been obtained by RLB.

The Bakers admitted that they made no payments on the student loans. Lisa Baker’s mother, who was listed as a co-borrower on some of the fraudulent loans, made some payments on the loans. Sallie Mae charged off all 11 student loans obtained by the Bakers, with an aggregate principal balance of $95,752.

Under federal statutes, each of the Bakers is subject to a sentence of up to 60 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of an investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

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