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Professor trying to help students get aid accused of fraud

Many people think that all criminal activity is done so intentionally and with malicious intent. This is usually why most people do not think twice about a conviction in a criminal case. But what these people fail to realize is that there are exceptions to the rule. Some people may not even realize that they are committing a crime until they are charged. And in some cases, such as the one we are about to present to our California readers, there may even be good intentions behind these supposed crimes.

A college professor from the College of Southern Nevada is currently facing fraud charges after trying to help several students obtain financial aid even though they did not have a high school diploma. Although the professor admitted to falsifying information on financial aid applications for several Spanish-speaking students, he explained that he had only done so because he wanted to “help people.” Unfortunately this did little to stop a grand jury from indicting him on four counts of financial-aid fraud.

Although a U.S. District Court judge had dismissed the case because the professor did not personally receive or control the financial aid funds, a three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court reversed this month. It stated that the “plain meaning of ‘obtain’ coupled with Congress's intent that the statute have broad reach” was enough to say that the professor had broken the law, even though he did not profit financially from doing so. Unless the professor appeals, he will need to defend himself against these serious charges.

Some people, possibly even some of our readers, might feel that the professor’s good intention should be taken into consideration in any upcoming trial. But as one of the judges in the panel pointed out, even “[a] criminal act done with a good heart is still a criminal act.” This is important for our readers to remember, especially because no one wants to go to prison for breaking the law while trying to do something good for someone else.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Court Takes Dim View of 'Good-Hearted' Crime,” Tim Hull, May 23, 2014

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