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Whistleblower awarded $775,000 in Arizona community colleges settlement

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) agreed to pay $4.08 million to settle allegations that it submitted false claims to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for AmeriCorps state and national grants.

Phoenix-based MCCCD runs community colleges in Maricopa County, Arizona.

The allegations arose from a whistleblower qui tam lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act by Christine Hunt, an MCCCD employee. Her share of the settlement is $775,827, the DOJ said Monday.

Under the False Claims Act, private citizens can sue on behalf of the government and share in any recovery.

CNCS is an independent federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, among other national service programs. 

MCCCD obtained AmeriCorps funding for Project Ayuda, a program designed to engage students in national service, the DOJ said.

To receive an AmeriCorps education award, a student had to meet certain service-hour requirements. 

"MCCCD allegedly improperly certified that students had completed the required number of service hours so that they would earn an education award," the DOJ said.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability, the DOJ said.

Since January 2009, the DOJ has recovered more than $23.2 billion through False Claims Act cases.

During the fiscal year that ended September 30, the government paid out $435 million to whistleblowers who filed qui tam complaints.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.