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May 22, 2020

The University of San Francisco has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations of knowingly presenting false and fraudulent claims in order to obtain federal grants under the AmeriCorps State and National Program to support its San Francisco Teacher Residency Program, which supplements tuition and living expenses for teacher apprentices working within the local school district.  The government’s investigation, triggered by a whistleblower’s qui tam complaint, revealed that over 1,500 timesheets had been falsified and 61 awards had been falsely certified between 2014-2016, netting the university’s program and students over $1.7 million in grants.  USAO CDCA

April 27, 2020

Following a self-disclosure by Harvard University, the university will pay $1.36 million to resolve allegations that its T.H. Chan School of Public Health overstated the time and effort spent on certain NIH grants managed by professor Donna Spiegelman.  The government alleges that Professor Spiegelman and her team inappropriately distributed their time across all grants for which they provided statistical support, without accurately accounting for the time they actually spent on particular grants and, further, that the university knew or should have known about the overcharges.  USAO Mass

April 15, 2020

Rice University in Texas has agreed to pay more than $3.7 million to settle claims of improperly charging unrelated expenses to National Science Foundation (NSF) research and development awards, in violation of the False Claims Act.  From 2006 to 2018, Rice University allegedly falsely certified that they were complying with NSF award terms and conditions, when in fact they were knowingly and improperly charging graduate students’ teaching stipends and unrelated administrative charges to the grants.  USAO SDTX

April 14, 2020

Importer Blue Furniture Solutions, LLC, its successor XMillennium, LLC, and former executives Yingqing Zeng and Alex Cheng have agreed to pay more than $5.2 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act in conspiring to evade customs duties and fees on furniture imported from China.  In a qui tam complaint by whistleblower University Loft Company, which the United States elected to intervene in, the defendants were accused of declaring wooden bedroom furniture as “metal” or “non-bedroom”, manipulating packing lists and invoices, and directing manufacturers to mislabel boxes and falsify invoices to help defendants evade U.S. customs officials.  USAO WDTX

March 31, 2020

Oklahoma-based mortgage lender Finance of America Reverse (FAR) has agreed to pay $2.47 million to resolve allegations that its predecessor, Urban Financial Group Inc., violated federal loan requirements as well as the False Claims Act while participating in the Federal Housing Administration’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage program, which allows seniors to supplement their incomes by withdrawing equity on their homes through federally-insured loans.  Urban Financial Group, which was acquired by FAR in 2013, had been accused of originating and underwriting hundreds of HECM loans using forms that improperly influenced home appraisal values.  DOJ; USAO DC

January 31, 2020

A bidder in the sale of a loan from the Department of Energy has agreed to pay $29 million to resolve allegations of colluding to rig the auction of the loan, thus depriving the agency of a fair bidding process and reducing the amount recovered by the agency.  The allegations that Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC, Hybrid Technology LLC, and Ace Strength International LTD exerted pressure on two other bidders to suppress their bids during the live auction were made by whistleblowers William Baldiga and the FAH Liquidating Trust in a qui tam suit.  The relators will share in $5.2 million of the recovery.  DOJ; USAO DC

January 27, 2020

Florida Academy, a for-profit trade school, has agreed to pay $512,500 to the United States for making false certifications to the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) regarding its compliance with a Post-9/11 GI Bill program requirement called the 85%-15% Rule.  To ensure the VA is paying tuition rates at fair market value, the 85%-15% Rule requires participating schools to certify that at least 15% of their students are paying with private funds.   USAO MDFL

January 17, 2020

Citibank, N.A. will pay $18 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to resolve claims that it violated the Flood Disaster Protection Act by failing to "force-place" flood insurance on behalf of borrowers as required by law.  OCC

January 7, 2020

After self-disclosing to the government about grant accounting errors in 2011, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has agreed to pay back $4.5 million in excess funds received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The errors had been in effect between two different periods, from 2007 to 2011 and from 2014 to 2017, and had caused the University to inadvertently charge salary costs to grants after the grant terms had ended.  USAO MDNC

January 3, 2020

Following a qui tam lawsuit alleging fraud against the Post-9/11 GI Bill in violation of the False Claims Act, Caldwell University has agreed to pay more than $4.8 million to the United States.  The alleged misconduct occurred between 2011 and 2013 and involved falsely claiming to the Department of Veterans Affairs that classes were developed and taught by the university, when in fact they were developed and taught by an unapproved subcontractor.  Caldwell had also charged the Post-9/11 GI Bill up to 30 times the prices charged to others for the same courses, leading the government to pay over $24 million in tuition.  USAO NJ
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