A woman in Cumberland County has been charged with student loan fraud. Brenda Joyce Hall, 51, of Goodwin, lived at “The Ranch” owned and operated by “Tent Revival Preacher” John McCollum.
McCollum was the leader of the group who lived near McCollum Road and operated several John C’s fish markets and mobile grills in Cumberland County, officials said. He died in August 2018, according to his lawyer.
Children of McCollum’s group members, some of whom were as young as 9, were forced to work full time in fish markets with little or no compensation, lifting heavy crates, keeping fish ice cold, cutting and cleaning fish, as well as carrying out construction work. and maintenance of mobile grills after hours, authorities said.
Hall is said to have worked in these fish markets and operated a home school called Halls of Knowledge at The Ranch. Up to $ 700,000 in student aid has been awarded to Hall’s students as a result of false transcripts taken at the Ranch. Another person living at the Ranch notarized the transcripts, according to the indictment.
The indictment accuses Hall of approaching students living on the ranch and convincing them to enroll in online classes at Wake Technical Community College.
Most of the students living on The Ranch did not graduate from high school and were not eligible to take classes at Wake Tech.
Hall told prospective students she would help them graduate from high school, get a laptop to do their jobs, and not be responsible for loans, according to the indictment.
After the students signed up and received help, Hall asked them to hand over that help to the Ranch. These funds were used to operate the Ranch and the fish market, according to the indictment.
The room is responsible for:
- Student loan fraud
- Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud
- Aggravated identity theft
McCollum, Hall and eight others were arrested in January 2018, following an 11-month investigation. Authorities had been working for some time to gather evidence and make arrests in the case, but were granted a break in August 2017, after finding a 15-year-old who had fled McCollum’s compound.
Investigators were unsure how many children were involved in the group over the years, as McCollum has led his crusade across the country to recruit children.
Hall, along with Pamela Puga Luna, Cornelia McDonald, Shirley McNatt, Daffene Edge, Kassia Rogers, Irish Williams, Shirnitka McNatt and Earlene Hayat have all been charged with operating an ongoing criminal enterprise, involuntary servitude of a minor, obtaining goods under a false pretext and conspiracy.