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NYU Grad Student Busted for Financial Aid Fraud, U.S. Attorney Says

By Danielle Tcholakian | September 9, 2016 3:59pm | Updated on September 12, 2016 8:42am
 NYU grad student Frank Harrison defrauded the federal government of over $1 million, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
NYU grad student Frank Harrison defrauded the federal government of over $1 million, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A New York University graduate student defrauded the federal government of more than $1 million in financial aid for at least five years, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

From about 2008 to 2013, Frank Harrison, 48, tricked federal education loan programs into giving him more than $1.3 million by submitting fraudulent and forged letters he claimed were written by five different doctors, a dentist, a professor who was his academic advisor and his landlord, according to court documents.

Harrison still owed more than $1.4 million in unpaid principal and capitalized interest when he was busted in 2015.

He got his MBA from Fordham University in 2002, and two additional masters degrees from NYU in 2012 and 2015, according to court records.

Harrison apologized in court when he pleaded guilty to student financial aid fraud in federal court on Feb. 19 of this year.

"From about 2008 to 2013, in Manhattan, I made false statements to my university for the purpose of receiving loans. I knew my statements were false at the time and I am sorry," Harrison said, according to court documents.

The crime carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, with three years supervised release and a maximum fine of $20,000, plus any restitution the court orders.

Harrison was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution of $1,170,694.

Harrison told a judge under oath when he pleaded guilty that he is in treatment by a psychiatrist, court-appointed therapist, doctor of osteopathy, acupuncturist, nutritionist and "an individual pertaining to cervical spine degeneration, prediabetes prevention as well as major depressive disorder and epilepsy."

According to court documents, the government's investigation into Harrison revealed that he spent at least five years at NYU submitting forged letters from doctors, some of whom really exist, in an attempt to get more financial aid for medical expenses.

It was not clear from court documents whether Harrison actually used the funds to pay for medical expenses.

NYU stopped giving Harrison federally funded student aid and instead gave him school grants to cover his cost of attendance through his graduation in 2015, according to court documents, and is not requiring Harrison to repay these grants.

NYU did not respond to a request for more information, but spokesman John Beckman issued a statement saying the school is "pleased to learn that this matter has been resolved and justice has been served.

"The University was glad to cooperate with the government in their investigation," Beckman said.