JEFFERSON CITY —A Jefferson City couple who took out more than $100,000 in student loans in their child's name pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of bank fraud.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, the scheme began in 2005 while the child — referred to as "RLB" in the indictment — was an undergraduate at William Woods University and ended in 2007. The couple, Lisa Baker, 53, and David Baker, 56, who have since divorced, submitted 11 separate applications for student loans ranging from $4,000 up to $19,200 at a time.
Between July 2005 and August 2007, the Bakers received $102,088 in student loans, although the money was used for "unapproved and undisclosed uses," according to the news release.
The Bakers forged their child's signature on the loan documents without his or her knowledge or consent. The parents received loans from both Sallie Mae Bank in Utah and First National Bank of Sioux Falls in South Dakota.
The child received separate loans from Sallie Mae Bank to pay for school at both William Woods University and later at MU while earning a master's degree in 2009. "RLB" did not receive any financial aid from his or her parents.
At the end of 2011, the child began receiving calls from a collection agency about overdue loan payments. In January 2012, the child looked into his or her credit history and discovered multiple loans for which he or she had not applied, according to the release.
As a couple, the Bakers made no payments on the student loans, according to their plea statement. Lisa Baker's mother, a co-borrower on some of the loans, did make payments. The unpaid balance is $95,752, according to the Bakers' plea statement.
Four Class B felony bank fraud charges were filed against the Bakers, two against each defendant. Each charge carries a possible penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, plus restitution, according to the news release.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a pre-sentence investigation.