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The United States Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

Public Affairs Office:

Alicia Valle
Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney
(305) 961-9153

Public Affairs Fax
(305) 530-7055

December 09, 2010


For-Profit Trade School Admissions Counselor Indicted for Creating Fradulent High School Diplomas

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Yessyka Santana, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, Investigation Services, Southeastern Region, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced that Ricardo Pradel, 31, of Miami, was charged in a one count indictment with federal financial aid fraud, in violation of Title 20, United States Code, Section 1097.

If convicted of this charge, the defendant faces a maximum statutory term of up to five (5) years’ imprisonment.

As alleged in the indictment and other court documents, between September 2007 and April 2010, Ricardo Pradel, worked as an admissions counselor for the American Institute, a for-profit trade school in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. During this time, Pradel is alleged to have created false high school diplomas that were placed into prospective student files. These files were used to gain admission and to support false applications for federal financial aid. As a direct result of these fraudulent documents, ineligible students at the American Institute received approximately $156,000 in federal financial aid to which they were not entitled.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their work on this case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton.

An indictment is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Technical comments about this website can be e-mailed to the Webmaster. PLEASE NOTE: The United States Attorney's Office does not respond to non-technical inquiries made to this website. If you wish to make a request for information, you may contact our office at 305-961-9001, or you may send a written inquiry to the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida, 99 NE 4th Street, Miami, Fl. 33132.

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Last Modified: 04/18/2011