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East Meadow man arrested again on mail fraud charge

An East Meadow man who served 2 months in jail last year after he refused to stop offering unauthorized GED courses and diplomas has been arrested again.

U.S. Postal Service inspectors arrested Robert Collins, 69, last week on charges he was offering high school equivalency courses and diplomas without a license.

He has been charged with mail fraud and if convicted, could get up to 20 years, said postal inspector Eric Oram.

Collins pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on July 19, the day he turned himself in. He was released on $75,000 bail and is due back in court in about a month, Oram said.

Reached by phone Friday, Collins said, "I was helping people." The public defender representing him declined to comment.

Oram said that since 2007 Collins has issued fake General Education Development diplomas to more than 500 people and cashed more than $300,000 in checks. He faces mail fraud charges because he mailed home-study course materials and customers sent their payments through the mail, according to Oram, who said some people found out their GEDs were worthless when they applied to community colleges that wouldn't accept their diplomas.

"It was a typical mail fraud case where Mr. Collins used the U.S. mail in furtherance of a scheme that defrauded a lot of hardworking people," Oram said.

In New York, students study for the GED at licensed schools and take the free test at approved centers.

In March 2009, Collins was sentenced to 3 months in jail after pleading guilty to violating multiple court orders obtained by the state attorney general's office to close his businesses. He served two months.

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