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University accused of AmeriCorps fraud settles with federal prosecutors for $2.5 million

Money went to teacher apprentices in ‘high-needs schools’

The University of San Francisco wanted AmeriCorps grants so badly that the director of its Teacher Residency Program “falsified over 1,500 timesheets and falsely certified approximately 61 education awards” in three grant years, reaping $1.7 million in taxpayer money, according to federal prosecutors.

More than three years after Loran Simon, then the assistant director of the residency program, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university for violating the False Claims Act, the Jesuit institution on the edge of Golden Gate Park has agreed to settle, according to the Justice Department.

USF will pay $2.56 million to the United States, which in turn will pay Simon $141,000 for his expenses and attorney’s fees, under the settlement agreement dated May 16.

It’s not clear why the lawsuit took so long to resolve. “When the United States brought these issues to the attention of senior USF management, USF voluntarily relinquished the grant and actively cooperated during the investigation,” the Justice Department said in the release. U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said the university’s cooperation “was a key factor in determining an appropriate resolution.”

USF used the AmeriCorps grants it received to supply “living allowances” and tuition assistance for students working toward teaching degrees. They served as teacher apprentices within “high-needs schools” in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Read the release and settlement.

h/t Inside Higher Ed

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