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U.S. Department of Education Raids 3 Florida College Campuses

Federal investigators raided three for-profit college campuses this week, carting away documents in a U.S. Education Department probe.

It was not clear what authorities were looking for, and the department declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.

The raids occurred Tuesday and Wednesday at the National School of Technology's Fort Lauderdale campus, and at Florida Career College's campuses in Lauderdale Lakes and Pembroke Pines.

"All I can do is confirm that we were there," said Catherine Grant, a spokeswoman for the Education Department's inspector general's office.

Grant declined to be more specific about the investigation Thursday. But the office generally investigates allegations of waste, fraud and abuse of federal education dollars.

Corinthian Colleges Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif.-based company that owns the National School of Technology, said in a statement that company officials had not been told why the investigation was being conducted.

Officials with Florida Career College, which operates seven campuses, also said they were not told what was being investigated. The school is owned by Greenhill Capital Partners, Abrams Capital and the college management itself.

Students at both schools are eligible to receive federal loans as well as state funds, according to the Florida Department of Education.

"The federal government has not given us any indication of what they (the raids) are about," said state education spokesman Tom Butler.

The National School of Technology offers programs in massage therapy, criminal justice, medical insurance billing and coding, and a variety of other health care training, according to its Web site. Florida Career College specializes in business, technology and health, according to its Web site.

Corinthian Colleges says on its Web site it is one of the largest post-secondary education companies in North America and operates 94 schools in 24 states and 32 others in Canada. In July, the company agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by California's attorney general claiming company subsidiaries overstated how many graduates found jobs and how much they were paid.

Corinthian has denied any wrongdoing in the case.