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United States Attorney’s Office Reaches $639,916 Settlement with Governor of Maryland’s Office on Service and Volunteerism to Resolve Alleged False Claims for AmeriCorps Program Funds

Baltimore, Maryland – The State of Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (“GOSV”), a division within the Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives (“GOCI”), has agreed to pay the United States $639,916 and enter into a compliance agreement to resolve a civil False Claims Act investigation relating to the operation of its AmeriCorps program. 

The settlement agreement was announced today by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and AmeriCorps’ Inspector General Deborah Jeffrey.

“This settlement demonstrates our firm commitment to protect taxpayer money and to guard the integrity of federal grant funds,” said United States Attorney Erek L. Barron.  “State agencies, such as GOSV and GOCI, are required to properly account for their use of federal grant funds and when they fail to do so they will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Barron.

“AmeriCorps depends on state service commissions to be partners in stewardship of national service funds.  The Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism failed in that trust by overstating its expenses and other irregularities that deprived at-risk communities of benefits intended for them,” said Deborah Jeffrey, AmeriCorps’ Inspector General.  “We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland for their work in protecting the integrity of national service.”

 

Denver Public Schools Pays Over $2.1 Million to Settle Allegations Relating to Misuse of AmeriCorps Funds

DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced today that Denver Public Schools (“DPS”) has paid $2,123,811 to the United States to resolve a civil False Claims Act investigation into the operation of its AmeriCorps program and its misuse of AmeriCorps funds.  DPS also agreed to pay for any outstanding AmeriCorps education awards yet to be distributed, up to approximately $614,000.

AmeriCorps is a federally funded network of national service programs that address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters, and more.  AmeriCorps volunteers—who are referred to as “members”—commit to service for a period of three months to a year in exchange for a living allowance, education awards, and other benefits. 

To receive an AmeriCorps education award, each member must complete a specified number of service hours, among other requirements. AmeriCorps grant recipients like DPS are responsible for verifying and certifying those hours to AmeriCorps, which maintains a fund to pay the education awards.

The United States alleges that, for grant years 2015 and 2016, DPS falsely certified to AmeriCorps that a significant portion of DPS’s members had performed the service hours necessary to qualify for an AmeriCorps education award, when in fact they had not. 

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AmeriCorps Construction Worker

 

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Fraud Alert!

 

 

The AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General (AmeriCorps OIG) is an independent office within AmeriCorps that provides oversight of the agency's programs and operations to protect the integrity of national service. AmeriCorps OIG performs audits, evaluations and investigations of AmeriCorps, its grantees and contractors, to promote efficiency and effectiveness, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. The Office is staffed with auditors, investigators, attorneys, information technology and other specialists who ensure that we meet our core functions and responsibilities.

Maintaining close working relationships with AmeriCorps and its awardees help us focus our efforts on priority areas and facilitate our proactive educational efforts.  The Office consults AmeriCorps in developing plans and obtains agency feedback on reports before they are issued. Semiannually, AmeriCorps OIG submits a summary report of its activities to the Congress and AmeriCorps leadership.

 

 

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