A Kern County woman pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to defraud the U.S. and to commit mail fraud in a federal student aid fraud scheme.

Stacey Kinyada Lee, 31, faces a maximum of five years in prison, according to a news release from the Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Eastern District of California. Four other defendants have already pleaded guilty.

Lee admitted to conspiring from April 2008 to March 2012 to obtain federal student aid funds to which she was not entitled, the news release said. Lee recruited individuals to act as "straw" students, including co-conspirators Deana Nolen, Willie Prude, Cheaney Key and Erisheniqua Dixon.

She enrolled them at community colleges and submitted false federal financial aid applications and other false documentation to obtain federal student assistance funds in their names, including Pell Grants and federal student loans. The news release said some of the straw students were not graduates of an accredited high school and did not have an equivalent degree such as a GED, and were therefore ineligible for federal student assistance programs.

Some conspirators shared a portion of the aid with Lee as her fee, but she also obtained funds by enrolling individuals without their knowledge to apply for and obtain federal student assistance funds in their names, according to the news release. Lee defrauded the U.S. Department of Education and the colleges of $203,409 in federal grant and student loan funds.

She is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 7.

- The Californian