Former UNT Employee Sentenced to Probation for Student Loan Fraud | Education
Tiffany O’Neal, 47, was convicted in federal court on Monday for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid from herself and her husband while working at the University of North Texas .
The judge sentenced her to five years federal probation and ordered her to pay $ 234,113 in restitution.
The maximum sentence could be up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $ 20,000, as well as up to three years of supervised release.
O’Neal worked in the UNT financial aid office as a student for about five years, in 2012-17.
She held an undergraduate degree in English and Technical Writing from 2006 to 2014, after which she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies as a graduate student until 2017.
Her husband graduated in education administration from 2012 to 2017.
In a statement sent by email to Denton Record-Chronicle On Tuesday evening, UNT spokeswoman Leigh Anne Gullett said O’Neal was fired after an investigation by the UNT Police Department “uncovered fraudulent activity.”
“UNT officials discovered the fraud during an internal audit, in which the university also implemented several control measures to prevent similar fraudulent activities in [the] future, âGullett wrote.
While at UNT, according to court documents, O’Neal embezzled about $ 230,000 in financial aid split between her and her husband, Timothy Sanchez.
This included over $ 153,000 in financial assistance to her husband and $ 80,000 for herself.
During these five years, O’Neal “knowingly and voluntarily increased his own financial aid allocations by submitting fictitious expenses related to his financial aid applications and also asking his colleagues in the financial aid office to ‘approve and process increases in personal expenses,’ according to court documents.
Court documents listed Frank Warren Henderson as O’Neal’s attorney. A person who answered the phone at Henderson’s office on Tuesday afternoon said he was not in the office.
O’Neal was fired from UNT in August 2018 while under investigation, according to a report by North Texas Daily, and she pleaded guilty to one count of federal student loan fraud on November 19, 2020, according to court documents obtained by the Record-Chronicle.
MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.