CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte educator is heading to federal prison for bringing foreign high school students to the country illegally.
The government said Evelyn Mack set up a private school in Charlotte -- the Evelyn Mack Academy -- and used it to promise foreign teens that they would play basketball at a prominent school with scholarship offers.
Instead, prosecutors said those athletes vanished in the hands of recruiters and basketball coaches.
"There were coaches and recruiters who wanted to circumvent the immigration system, and they came to Ms. Mack and Ms. Mack was willing to use her status," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenny Smith told Channel 9.
Smith is a prosecutor who spent years working on Mack's case.
Now that Mack has been sentenced to 18 months behind bars, Smith decided to sit down with Channel 9 to break down the scope of Mack's crimes.
Smith said Mack had special authorization through the department of Homeland Security to bring international students to Charlotte on F-1 visas.
"She specifically had authorization for students in 9th to 12th grade," Smith said. "And part of her duties included not only educating them but making sure they were in her school full-time and doing what they're supposed to do, and that did not happen."
Mack admitted to accepting $1,000 to file each fraudulent document that helped 75 students come to the United States. The government said she made around $75,000.
"That's a problem, because you have high school students...from all over the world who are in the U.S., and the State Department does not know where they are," Smith said. "That poses a risk for the country, because you don't know who is in the country."
(Evelyn Mack leaving federal court)
Mack's attorney argued that the coaches involved in the recruiting ring need to be brought to justice, too.
There are co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment, but none by name.
"We would say if other persons are involved, hopefully they're watching and take note," Smith said.
Documents state that prosecutors managed to find just two of the 75 students Mack got into the country illegally. One was at a school that was not authorized to host foreign students.
Channel 9 learned that the other student is now homeless in New Hampshire.
© 2020 Cox Media Group