LUBBOCK, TX -- Federal prosecutors in Lubbock filed charges Thursday against American Commercial College and its president, Doyle “Brent” Sheets, 58, of Lubbock.
According to the court records the college failed to meet the so-called 90/10 rule to participate in federal student aid (FSA). The court record accuses the college of manipulating its records to make it look like ACC was eligible to participate in FSA when in reality it was ineligible.
Under the 90/10 rule students must pay at least 10 percent of their tuition cost from sources other than federal student aid. The other 90 percent can be FSA.
The court record says ACC cheated the government out of $972,794.70 from 2007 through 2009.
“ACC officials and ACC employees had its students obtain individual private short-terms loans from a private bank, using the proceeds from said loans for ACC to falsely represent to the [Department of Education] that it was in compliance with the 90/10 rule.”
ACC used FSA money to pay back the short terms loans, according to the court record, but on paper it looked like the students had provided 10 percent from somewhere else.
Sheets is charged with misprision of a felony; in simple terms prosecutors allege Sheets knew ACC was accepting money illegally from the government but did not stop it.
The college still has a business office in Lubbock but its Lubbock campus was shut down shortly after federal agents raided the institution in 2011. According to its website ACC still operates campus locations in Odessa, San Angelo and Wichita Falls.
If convicted, Mr. Sheets would face a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison.
Clarification: Mr. Sheets was charged by prosecutors in a document called an Information instead of an indictment. The difference is that one is presented directly to a judge. The other is voted on by a grand jury. But the criminal charge is exactly the same.