DOJ Catch of the Week -- Maricopa County Community College District
By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team
This week’s Department of Justice “catch of the week” goes to Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD). This is the Phoenix-based entity responsible for operating community colleges in Maricopa County, Arizona. On Monday, the MCCCD agreed to pay $4.08 million to resolve charges it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) concerning AmeriCorps state and national grants. CNCS is an independent federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, among other national service programs. See DOJ Press Release.
MCCCD obtained AmeriCorps funding for Project Ayuda, a program that proposed to engage students in national service. In order to receive an AmeriCorps education award, a student has to meet certain service-hour requirements. According to the government, MCCCD improperly certified that students had completed the required number of service hours so they would earn an education award. This resulted in CNCS providing education awards to these students. MCCCD also allegedly improperly received grant funds from CNCS to administer the project. The charges against MCCCD originated from a whistleblower lawsuit filed by MCCCD employee Christine Hunt under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. She will receive a whistleblower award of roughly $775,000.