NC private school owner sentenced in scheme involving student visas

North Carolina news

Evelyn Mack Academy. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The former owner and principal of a Charlotte-area private school was sentenced to 18 months in prison on conspiracy charges.

Evelyn Mack pleaded guilty last year to federal charges of using her small private school, Evelyn Mack Academy, to falsely enroll foreign teens who were being sought by basketball recruiters and coaches.

Tuesday, Mack was sentenced on charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens.

According to court records, EMA, located next to East Mecklenburg High on Monroe Road in Charlotte, was approved and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security’s Student Exchange Visitor Program to enroll foreign national students in grades nine through 12. Mack was intended to be the school’s primary designated school official, or PDSO.

Given Mack’s title, she had the authority to issue I-20 forms for foreign national students to enroll in and attend EMA on a full-time basis. The I-20 forms are necessary documents for foreign national students to obtain their student visas.

Mack conspired with basketball coaches and recruiters in the U.S. and other countries to use her status to admit foreign national students without complying with terms of the F-1 student visa program, court records show.

“As part of the scheme, Mack falsely represented that approximately 75 foreign students were full-time students at EMA, when in fact the majority of the students, who were minors, were mostly recruited as athletes by the co-conspirators,” court documents state.

A spokesperson previously explained a Nigerian teenager thought he was going to go to the Evelyn Mack Academy, but instead was found in an Alamance County high school with a fraudulent visa.

Mack was reportedly paid $1,000 per student and received other benefits in exchange for her participation in the scheme.

Mack pleaded guilty in June 2018 to conspiracy to harbor aliens. She was sentenced on the charges Tuesday.

Mack was listed in North Carolina private school directories at the Monroe Road location from 2000-2001 to 2016-17.

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