Six former BAE employees charged in education-fraud case

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Six more people have been charged in connection with an alleged tuition reimbursement scam allegedly conducted by former employees of BAE Systems in Fort Wayne, Indiana, The News-Sentinel has learned.

Stephanie Dates, Calvin Jamal Howell, David Rinderle, Latonya Smith, Amber Szanja and Nicholas Young have been indicted on wire fraud charges in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne.

As The News-Sentinel first reported Saturday, between 45 and 50 employees may have been involved in a scheme that exploited a 2013 company policy that paid employees in advance for the cost of tuition. Before the policy was changed last year, employees were required to provide proof of course registration and a tuition bill, and the company would then provide the funds needed to pay for the courses. Employees also were required to provide a completion certificate at the end of the course and meet certain grade requirements. If those requirements were not met, the employee would have to reimburse the company. The employees used proprietary company software to submit fraudulent documentation to BAE computers in New Hampshire, hence the federal wire-fraud charges.

Howell allegedly received $18,750 in bogus payments, as did Szanja. Dates and Rinderle are accused of taking $30,750 each, and Smith allegedly took $27,000. Young’s amount was not immediately available, but the value of the 14 former employees’ alleged scam totals $391,773.

BAE makes civilian and military aviation components at its plant on Airport Expressway in Fort Wayne. Federal officials have indicated additional indictments are possible.