Cranberry woman sentenced after using student loans to pay for cosmetic surgery

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A 36-year-old Cranberry woman was sentenced Monday to 15 months in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining more than $600,000 in student loans by using the identities and financial information of her parents.

Meredith Shuster was also ordered to pay $632,613 in restitution for the fraud. In addition, U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak ordered that she be placed on probation for five years after her release.

She pleaded guilty to bank and mail fraud in April.

During a marathon sentencing hearing, Ms. Shuster's lawyer argued for leniency, saying Ms. Shuster suffers from "body dysmorphic disorder," a condition the attorney said caused her to continually spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery to change her appearance.

Nearly half of the money she stole went to pay for medical alterations connected to that condition, she said.

But the U.S. attorney's office said she also spent much of the money on various other personal expenses unrelated to any medical conditions and ultimately hurt students and parents across the country who are struggling to pay for college.


Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.

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