MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three people, including two Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees, have been arrested for allegedly participating in a scheme to sell GED certificates.
A release sent by the Florida State Attorney’s Office announced the arrests of Roxanne Insignares, Antonio Bouzan and Marta Avalos.
The arrests came following a collaborative investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Office of the Inspector General.
The investigation found that Insignares, Bouzan and Avalos were selling GED certificates for as much as $3000 to test brokers and applicants.
Insignares had been working as the former GED test chair at Miami Lakes Educational Center and Technical College, where Bouzon was formerly employed as a GED registrar. He was currently working as a secretary and treasurer at Orchard Villa Elementary School.
Avalos was a test broker.
Insignares has been with the MDCPS District since 1991 while Bouzon had been with the district since 1987.
“The alleged brokering and sale of GED certificates by an organized criminal circle, two of whom were employees of the MDCPS, is a blatant betrayal of trust,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in the release. “Those in charge of making sure that educational standards are met to award GED certificates are entrusted with making sure that those receiving certificates have passed the required examination of educational foundation. To cheat the system and put money in their pockets unlawfully while performing their official duties is not only illegal, but has the potential to put our entire community at risk.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools also released a statement, which threatened legal action.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools takes these allegations of fraud and professional misconduct seriously. The school district will take any and all legal action against individuals who seek to compromise the value of a legitimate education and profit from fraudulent activity. The work of the investigative agencies involved in this case has been remarkable, and, as a school district, we have initiated the necessary action to terminate the employment of these individuals.”
According to the release, Insignares falsified records and submitted fraudulent information to the Department of Education as well as MDCPS.
Investigators say Insignares used her personal debit card to pay registration fees for five people. Additional records showed 21 GED’s were fraudulent and under her credentials.
The investigation identified Bouzan and Avalos as “test brokers” who would negotiate the amount for each GED, after which Insignares would obtain the certificate.
The four year scheme went down between 2012 and 2016. It was discovered during an unrelated investigation by the Public Corruption Task Force.
“I think it’s unfair because you see all these people working hard, going to school, trying to build themselves a better life by getting an education, getting their GEDs, moving on in life and they’re just out here spending their money to get it. It’s just unfair,” said Felipe Ortiz, a junior at Miami Lakes Educational Center.
All three are facing multiple felony charges, including Organized Scheme to Defraud, a second degree felony, and Cheating, a third degree felony.