Letter alleging Pell Grant fraud seized in Jewish institute raid
Federal agents seized more than 130 boxes of files — including one mentioning "Pell Grant fraud" — during a raid this week of the Michigan Jewish Institute and an affiliated Orthodox Jewish group in West Bloomfield, according to documents filed Friday with the U.S. District Court.
The filing of the warrant and evidence list comes days after agents raided the Southfield office of the largely online college. The documents show that agents also seized records from The Shul-Chabad Lubavitch in West Bloomfield, which houses the college's campus.
Earlier this week Catherine Grant, public affairs liaison for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General, confirmed that the agency executed a search warrant but declined further comment.
Most of the 133 boxes listed on the evidence inventory forms were labeled as student records. One box was labeled to contain a "handwritten letter describing Pell Grant fraud."
Neither federal nor college officials have said much this week regarding the raid; however, according to a Jewish publication, The Forward, the college has benefited in recent years from millions in federal dollars even though most of its students live in Israel.
The Forward reported that during a five-year period, the college's students "claimed $25 million under the Federal Pell Grant Program, which is designed for the neediest American students. Almost all of those students took degree courses in Judaic studies at yeshivas and seminaries in Israel that they never completed."
Earlier this week Michigan Jewish Institute issued a statement that the institute was "cooperating fully with the federal authorities" and that operations would continue as normal. School officials did not provide any details on the raid.
According to its website, the college offers bachelor degree programs centered on career development.