Pa. couple gets prison in student-loan scam

East Stroudsburg couple Ronzell Mitchell, 38, and Stephanie Mitchell, 37, have been handed down federal prison terms in connection with a student loan fraud scheme.

An East Stroudsburg, Pa. couple was sentenced to prison Thursday for swiping more than $250,000 in student loan proceeds by using stolen identities to direct the money to addresses where they could intercept it.

Stephanie Mitchell, 37, was ordered to serve 12 months in prison, while Ronzell Mitchell, 38, received 28 months.

Both Mitchells previously pleaded guilty in federal court in Camden to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Prosecutors said the scheme took place from August 2010 through March 2012.

Stephanie Mitchell regularly used a box at a Montvale, N.J. UPS Store that was opened using another person’s name and driver’s license.

She and Ronzell Mitchell submitted multiple applications for federal student loans using a variety of stolen identities, according to court filings.

They then contacted Liberty University and American Public University, posing as the students that had been issued the loans.

The Mitchells caused the proceeds of numerous credit balance checks and debit cards, supposedly representing loan funds in excess of that required to cover attendance, to be redirected to the UPS store and to a vacant house in Stroudsburg.

The duo admitted fraudulently obtaining a total of $272,247 in U.S. Department of Education monies.

In addition to the prison terms, the Mitchells were each ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay fines of $35,000, along with $272,247 in restitution. The restitution has already been paid in full, prosecutors said.

Ronzell Mitchell in February received an unrelated sentence of 46 months in federal prison in connection with a $4 million mortgage fraud case in the Dallas, Texas, area that netted five other convictions.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

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