The man was charged in federal court.

The man was charged in federal court.

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A Texas man orchestrated a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in student financial aid over the years, federal authorities say. He has now been charged in federal court.

39-year-old Emmanuel Finich is accused of stealing nearly $600,000 in financial aid money by impersonating more than 30 students at eight Texas colleges, according to an Oct. 3 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

A Richmond man was arrested on Sept. 30, two days after he was indicted by a grand jury. He faces charges of theft of public funds, aggravated identity theft, student financial aid fraud and unlawful use or transfer of identification documents.

According to the federal indictment, Finnich was working at Texas Southern University when he began defrauding the government of student financial aid in 2017.

According to authorities, between 2017 and 2022, he submitted college applications to about 32 people at Houston Community College, Lone Star College, Texas Southern University, Blinn College, Tarrant County College, Wharton County Junior College, Lee College and Austin Community College.

According to court records, he used false and stolen names, dates of birth, electronic signatures and reference information.

Finnih then submitted false Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) files on behalf of those individuals, prosecutors said. He also enrolled them in academic courses.

“In some cases (he) recruited people to give him their personal IDs, and in other cases he used the personal IDs of individuals who had not seen them, without their knowledge or consent,” authorities said. “In at least one instance, the individual was incarcerated at the time Finich submitted the falsified FAFSA forms in that individual’s name.”

Authorities said he “created numerous false documents and submitted them in support of false applications, including, but not limited to, false college transcripts, hospital discharge forms, medical bills and letters, home schooling records, driver’s licenses and temporary driver’s licenses.”

Finnich’s attorney did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ Oct. 3 request for comment.

Authorities say he forced the schools to offer about $595,543.44 in financial aid to students. Finnich then used the money “for his own personal gain and not for educational expenses as required.”

“If convicted of theft of public funds, Finich faces up to 10 years in federal prison, while student financial aid fraud and unlawful use or transfer of identification documents are punishable by up to five years in prison,” — officials said. “Additionally, each count of aggravated identity theft carries a sentence of two years, to be served consecutively to any other sentence.”

Caitlin Alanis is a reporter for McClatchy National Real-Time who lives in Kansas. She is a graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in Agricultural Communications and Journalism.