LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater New York (the “YMCA”) has
agreed to pay $534,000 to settle civil charges that it defrauded
the Corporation for National and Community Service (the
“Corporation”) while participating in the Corporation’s
AmeriCorps Education Awards Program (“AmeriCorps”).
The Corporation is an independent federal corporation created by the
National and Community Service Trust Act, which administers a
number of federally-funded volunteer and community service
programs, including AmeriCorps. According to the Complaint,
filed yesterday, and the Settlement Agreement, filed today in
Manhattan Federal Court:
The Corporation awarded an AmeriCorps grant to the YMCA
for the purpose of providing a tutoring program to grade school
students at various public schools in New York City from 2001
through 2005. AmeriCorps grantees — such as the YMCA — recruit
individuals to enroll as full or part-time members in the
AmeriCorps program, for specified periods of time, to perform the
community service activities approved by the Corporation under
the grant. According to AmeriCorps program rules: After
completing the required term of service and satisfactorily
completing the program, AmeriCorps members are eligible to
receive a voucher from the Corporation crediting them with a
post-service education award that may be used to pay off
qualified student loans or to pay qualified education costs.
In order for an AmeriCorps member to receive an award, the grantee
must first certify to the United States that the member has
performed the minimum hours of service as required by the
Corporation and successfully completed all program requirements.
The rules also permit members who are actively participating in
an approved AmeriCorps program and who satisfy all membership
eligibility criteria to receive living allowances during the
terms of their service. Grantees who pay living allowances to
AmeriCorps members may obtain reimbursement of these expenses
from the Corporation.
The Complaint charges that the YMCA falsely certified
the number of service hours completed by AmeriCorps members
participating in its program so that these individuals could
receive education awards to which they were not entitled. For
example, the YMCA repeatedly certified to the Corporation that
its AmeriCorps members had completed certain service hours when
they had not. Furthermore, the YMCA falsely certified to the
Corporation that its members had completed service hours for work
approved under the AmeriCorps grant when, in fact, the members
had been performing other activities that were not covered under
the approved program, such as working at YMCA summer camps.
As a result of these false certifications, the Corporation paid
education awards on behalf of numerous YMCA AmeriCorps members
who, in fact, were not entitled to receive any such benefits.
In addition, the Complaint alleged that the YMCA
submitted reimbursement requests for amounts it was not entitled
to receive under the grant. Specifically, the Government
asserted in the Complaint that the YMCA sought and obtained
reimbursement for living allowances paid to numerous individuals
who were not entitled to receive these amounts because they were
not actively participating in the YMCA’s AmeriCorps program or
did not otherwise meet the membership criteria.
The YMCA agreed to pay the Government $534,000 to
settle the charges detailed in the Complaint. In agreeing to the
settlement, the YMCA did not admit to any wrongdoing or
liability. United States District Judge ALVIN K. HELLERSTEIN
approved the settlement today in Manhattan federal court.
Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts and assistance provided by the Corporation and the Corporation’s
Office of Inspector General in this case.
Assistant United States Attorney PIERRE G. ARMAND is in
charge of the case.