Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Lower Moreland Township Police Chief Peter Hasson announce the filing of charges against Hamlet Garcia and Olesia Garcia, both of Philadelphia, for theft of services and conspiracy to commit theft of services for obtaining educational services in Lower Moreland Township without paying the necessary tuition costs derived from school taxes.
Specifically, Hamlet and Olesia Garcia fraudulently reported that they resided at the Huntingdon Valley home of Olesia Garcia’s father in order to send their child to school in Lower Moreland. As a result, the Garcia’s failed to pay the local school taxes, but obtained the services paid for with those school taxes. Their fraudulent conduct resulted in a financial loss to the Lower Moreland School District in the amount of $10,752.81 for the year.
In March of 2012, the Lower Moreland School District received information that one of their enrolled students resided in Philadelphia and not Lower Moreland Township.
As a result, the School District conducted a residency investigation to determine whether the student’s parents, Hamlet and Olesia Garcia, were providing a fraudulent Lower Moreland address. The school records indicated that the student and the Garcias lived together at an address on Brookdale Avenue, Huntingdon Valley, Lower Moreland Township.
During April of 2012, surveillance performed by the School District revealed that the student never left the Brookdale Avenue address in the morning to attend school.
However, the vehicle driven by Hamlet Garcia that took the student to school was seen earlier in the morning at the Garcia’s home on Philmont Terrace in Philadelphia.
At an April 16, 2012, meeting with the School District, Olesia Garcia’s father provided a signed and notarized document marked “Application for Multiple Occupancy Registration” which stated that Olesia Garcia and her child resided with him on Brookdale Avenue.
A subsequent investigation performed by the Lower Moreland Police Department revealed that Garcias lived in their Philadelphia home since 2004, and at no time did the Garcias or their child reside in Lower Moreland.
During the investigation, Olesia Garcia’s father admitted to police that Olesia Garcia and her child would only stay at his house “sometimes” despite his earlier representations.
According to the Lower Moreland School District, the cost to educate the child for the year was $10,752.81.
The loss was calculated based upon the Pennsylvania Department of Education tuition rate for the school district of $58.97 per student per day.
The tuition costs for the students are paid for with the school taxes of those who live within the school district.
Accordingly, due to the fact that the Garcias did not live within the school district, and therefore did not pay school taxes for the district, they obtained the educational services without payment for those services.
According to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, “These defendants essentially stole from every hard-working taxpayer who resides within the Lower Moreland School District by lying about the true location of their home. School taxes are a difficult burden that most residents pay without complaint, but the Garcia’s instead chose to steal to further their child’s education.”
The Preliminary Hearings for Hamlet Garcia and Olesia Garcia are scheduled for Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. before Magisterial District Justice Jay S. Friedenberg in Willow Grove, Upper Moreland Township.
They will remain free on $10,000 unsecured bail pending resolution of the charges.
These cases will be prosecuted by the captain of the economic crimes team, Assistant District Attorney John F. Walko.