WOMAN CHARGED WITH STEALING $262,000 FROM FIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS UNDER GUISE OF HELPING THEM OBTAIN FINANCIAL AID TO PAY BACK RESTITUTION IN ANOTHER FRAUD CASE

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
Case # 11HF1510

 




June 21, 2011

Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

WOMAN CHARGED WITH STEALING $262,000 FROM FIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS UNDER GUISE OF HELPING THEM OBTAIN FINANCIAL AID TO PAY BACK RESTITUTION IN ANOTHER FRAUD CASE

 

SANTA ANA – A woman was arrested this afternoon on charges of stealing $262,000 from at least five unsuspecting students by taking loans out in their names under the guise of assisting them with getting money for college. Carla Ann Brennan, 63, Laguna Hills, is charged with five felony counts of grand theft, five felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of identity theft, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, loss over $100,000, property loss over $150,000, money laundering in excess of $150,000, and crime-bail-crime. The enhancement for crime-bail-crime indicates that the defendant was out of custody on bail in another criminal case at the time of the crime. If convicted, Brennan faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and four months in state prison. She is being held on $262,000 bail and is required to prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. Brennan is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

 

Background

In 2006, Brennan and her then-husband Anthony Brennan were charged with filing false tax returns and making false financial statements (Case #06HF0677). Prior to the resolution of this criminal case, the defendants paid $100,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) of the $188,000 they owed in unpaid taxes and penalties. Carla and Anthony Brennan divorced during this time.

 

Both defendants pleaded guilty July 31, 2008, and were ordered to pay the remaining restitution, complete community service, and were placed on five years of formal probation. Unbeknownst to law enforcement, Carla Brennan is accused of defrauding at least five victims in a scheme to both personally profit and pay back the restitution (see below).  

 

Circumstances of the Current Criminal Case

Between August and December 2007, Brennan is accused of stealing $262,000 from five students, ages 17 to 23 years old, under the guise of assisting them in obtaining financial aid for college. She is accused of using some of the stolen money to repay FTB and keeping the rest for personal expenses. The defendant is accused of meeting her victims through her children.

 

Brennan is accused of convincing at least five students to provide her with their personal identifying information including their name, address, social security number, date of birth, and phone number with the promise of assisting them in obtaining money for college. She is accused of instructing the victims to sign documents, which they did not read or understand, without telling the victims that they were signing student loan applications.

 

Without the knowledge of the students, Brennan is accused of stealing the identities of two additional victims and using the stolen identities as co-signers on the student loan documents. One of the identity theft victims was a friend of one of Brennan’s sons and was a U.S. Marine Corps Iraq war veteran.