INVESTIGATIONS

The Investigations Section within the OIG is responsible for the detection and investigation of fraud, waste, and abuse within Corporation for National and Community Service programs and operations. Special Agents conduct various criminal, civil, and administrative investigations. Some of our criminal investigations are conducted in conjunction with other federal, state or local law enforcement agencies. Criminal investigations are presented to the U.S. Attorney and, in some cases, the local prosecutor, for criminal prosecution and/or civil recovery.

The Investigations Section also conducts fraud awareness briefings and provides a pamphlet entitled "OIG Investigations and You" which discusses the Corporation for National and Community Service employees rights and responsibilities regarding investigations. Also, See;

The Investigations Section also maintains the Fraud Hotline which can be used to report fraud, waste and abuse involving Corporation for National and Community Service programs and operations.

Closed Investigations

Closed Investigations

AmeriCorps Member Debarred for Falsification of Timesheets; Grantee Required to Repay Funds for Improper Education Awards

Closed 12/2/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that a former AmeriCorps member (member) in the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Lansing, MI, AmeriCorps Program submitted fraudulent timesheets. The investigation revealed the former member submitted multiple false timesheets totaling over 140 false service hours that were recorded on holidays and days when the service site was closed.  The false hours allowed the former member to fraudulently obtain a Segal Education Award.  The investigation also discovered questionable AmeriCorps service hours for five additional former members, three of whom received Education Awards based on the questionable hours.  CNCS-OIG also discovered MCAN conducted late criminal history checks (CHC) for four employees.

CNCS-OIG recommended CNCS disallow the questionable service hours, recoup the improper Education Awards, assess MCAN’s timekeeping procedures, and disallow funds associated with the late CHCs. CNCS-OIG also recommended debarment of the former member who submitted multiple false timesheets.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and debarred the former member for two years.  In addition, CNCS disallowed the questionable service hours related to days the service site was closed, issued a debt to MCAN for the improper Education Awards and had the Education Awards permanently placed on hold.  The Michigan Community Service Commission (Commission), Lansing, MI, reviewed MCAN’s timekeeping procedures and found MCAN now provided additional oversight and required additional signatures on member timesheets.  The Commission reviewed additional member timesheets and found some unallowable service activities; however, the disallowance of those hours did not affect those members’ Education Awards.  

Case ID 2018-002

AmeriCorps Grantee Employee Debarred for Falsification of Criminal History Check

Closed 12/2/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that a former AmeriCorps Program employee at Easter Seals North Georgia (Easter Seals), Atlanta, GA, submitted a fraudulent National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) check to CNCS.  During the investigation, the employee admitted she falsified the date on the NSOPW check and submitted the fabricated document to CNCS as part of an Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act (IPERIA) review, in order to mislead CNCS that the NSOPW check was compliant.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix related to the noncompliant NSOPW check.  CNCS also debarred the employee for two years.

Case ID 2019-005

Former AmeriCorps Member Enters into Civil False Claims Act Settlement with Department of Justice for Falsifying Timesheets and is Debarred for Two Years

Closed 12/2/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that a former AmeriCorps member (member) at Berea College, Berea, KY, submitted false timesheets.  The investigation revealed the former member continued to submit false timesheets for three months after she stopped showing up for service and subsequently received living allowance payments for time not served.  The member was terminated from the program when the timesheet fraud was discovered.  

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky accepted the matter for prosecution under the Civil False Claims Act, which resulted in a civil settlement and restitution.  In addition, CNCS-OIG recommended debarment of the former member.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and debarred the former member for two years.

Case ID 2018-028

Grantee Employee Debarred for Falsification of Criminal History Checks

Closed 11/29/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that an employee who worked on the AmeriCorps program at Graceland University, Lamoni, IA, submitted a fraudulent National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) check to CNCS.  During the investigation, the employee admitted to fabricating the NSOPW check for one employee and falsifying the dates on NSOPW checks for two AmeriCorps members, in order to mislead CNCS that the NSOPW checks were compliant.  The employee was subsequently terminated.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix related to the noncompliant NSOPW checks. CNCS also debarred the employee for two years.

Case ID 2017-019

CNCS Staff Failed to Report Suspected Fraud to CNCS-OIG

Closed 9/30/2019

CNCS-OIG completed its investigation regarding allegations that two CNCS employees failed to report a complaint about potential fraud within a CNCS program to CNCS-OIG.  The employees acknowledged they understood their reporting obligations but neglected to report the matter to CNCS-OIG, as required by CNCS policy.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management disagreed that there was a violation of CNCS’s policy and elected to take no action in this case.  

Case ID 2018-041

AmeriCorps Members Recorded Excessive, Unsupported Service Hours on Timesheets

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that a former employee of Regional School Unit 14 (RSU14) - Windham-Raymond Schools, Windham, ME, approved false timesheets for two former AmeriCorps members (members). CNCS-OIG found the members recorded excessive service days on their timesheets, often ranging from 16-18 hours in a day. The RSU14 employee supervising the members was not in a position to witness members serving that many hours in one day and she did not timely review and sign their timesheets. The CNCS-OIG investigation concluded that the hours submitted and approved for the two members were excessive and lacked adequate support.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and RSU14 exited the two members without Education Awards.  

Case ID 2018-040

AmeriCorps Member Performed Prohibited Religious Activities

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members (members) in the City of Orlando, Orlando Partnership for School Success (O-PASS) AmeriCorps Program, Orlando, FL, submitted false timesheets and displaced staff. The investigation did not substantiate those allegations. However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG determined one member violated 45 C.F.R. § 2520.65(7), when she performed prohibited religious instruction as part of her AmeriCorps service.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management responded and concurred with CNCS-OIG’s recommendations. CNCS reported that City of Orlando provided additional training to its service sites on prohibited activities and member service activities and the Commission confirmed the hours performing prohibited religious instruction were disallowed and removed from the member’s timesheet.

Case ID 2018-033

AmeriCorps Program Directed an AmeriCorps Member to Perform Staff Work, Results in Disallowed Hours and Additional Training

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that Rebuilding Together (RT), New York City, NY, expended grant funds early, drew down grant funds on unfilled AmeriCorps member (member) positions, paid grant funds to RT employees not listed on the grant, and assigned members to serve outside the scope of the grant. The investigation did not substantiate those allegations. However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG found RT violated 45 C.F.R. § 2540.100(f) (“Nondisplacement”) when a member was directed to perform the work of paid staff for a week. Another member reported significant idle time due to lack of service opportunities. The investigation also found that RT staff violated the grant terms and conditions when it failed to notify CNCS and CNCS-OIG of a former member who submitted fraudulent timesheets. RT staff disallowed the false hours, terminated the member, and adjusted its draw downs accordingly.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management responded and reviewed timesheets and activity logs and found one eight-hour instance when the member engaged in staff work (website upgrades). RT disallowed the entire eight hours, which did not affect the members’ eligibility for his Education Award. RT program staff received training on staff displacement and reporting fraud to CNCS-OIG.

Case ID 2018-009

AmeriCorps Grantee Overpaid Program Staff Resulting in Disallowed Costs

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that staff at the Salvation Army, Anchorage, AK, Safe Senior AmeriCorps Program (SSAP) mismanaged the AmeriCorps program and pressured AmeriCorps members (members) to add unearned service hours to their timesheets. The investigation did not substantiate those allegations.  However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG determined one employee failed to document all of her time spent on the SSAP Planning Grant and another employee was given a year’s salary, but only worked at Salvation Army on the SSAP for approximately nine months.  

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management responded and partially concurred with CNCS-OIG’s recommendations.  CNCS did not agree that one employee failed to properly document her time spent on the SSAP Planning Grant, but issued a debt for a portion of her salary that was over the approved budget line item.  CNCS disagreed that Salvation Army overpaid the other employee a year’s salary when the employee only worked on the program for nine months because she worked more hours than planned and the Salvation Army did not exceed the approved budget limits for her salary.  CNCS confirmed the Alaska Commission updated its Program Director’s Manual that now contains satisfactory requirements for staff timekeeping.

Case ID 2018-006

AmeriCorps Grantee Failed to Conduct Compliant National Service Criminal History Checks

Closed 7/24/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members (members) in the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau (Youth Bureau), Oswego, NY, AmeriCorps Program submitted false timesheets.  The investigation did not substantiate that allegation.  However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG identified six Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal History Checks (CHCs) that were initiated after the members started service.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings that the Youth Bureau’s FBI CHCs were non-compliant because they were initiated late and disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix.  

Case ID 2018-032

AmeriCorps VISTA Members Tasked with Service Outside the Scope of the Grant and Duties Otherwise Performed by Employees

Closed 7/24/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that SEEDS, Traverse City, MI, improperly required AmeriCorps VISTAs (VISTAs) to engage in direct service outside the scope of the grant and displaced staff.  The investigation revealed SEEDS violated 45 C.F.R. § 2556.150 when its staff directed and assigned three VISTAs to perform services or duties that would otherwise be performed by employed workers or other volunteers.  In addition, SEEDS did not have adequate policies or practices to prevent VISTAs from conducting direct service.  The investigation found no evidence to support the allegation of staff displacement.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS responded that the CNCS Michigan State Office provided training to SEEDS staff, and conducted a visit to SEEDS to reinforce the training. Additionally, CNCS program officers conducted a site supervisor training in April 2019, which covered multiple aspects of VISTA project and member management, including allowable indirect capacity building activities vs. non-allowable direct service activities.

Case ID 2018-026

AmeriCorps Grantee Overcharges Grant for Staff Salary Payments

Closed 7/24/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that Sunset Park Health Council (Sunset Park), New York City, NY, operated two separate AmeriCorps programs to make a profit from grant funding and utilized AmeriCorps members (members) to perform personal errands for staff.

The investigation found no evidence to support the allegations that Sunset Park profited from AmeriCorps grants or members performed service outside the scope of the grant.  The investigation did find a Sunset Park employee improperly charged 100 percent of her time and effort to the AmeriCorps grant, even though she spent one-third of her time on non-AmeriCorps programs.  CNCS-OIG recommended that CNCS disallow the costs associated with the inaccurate salary charges.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS agreed with CNCS-OIG regarding the recommendation to disallow salary charges for the employee and initiated action to recover those funds.

Case ID 2018-010

Our Lady of Lourdes Agrees to Pay Over $1.1M to Resolve Claims It Failed to Perform Background Checks, Fraudulently Billed U.S. for Community Service Grants

PHILADELPHIA and CAMDEN – United States Attorneys William M. McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Craig Carpenito for the District of New Jersey jointly announced that Our Lady of Lourdes Health Foundation and two related Our Lady of Lourdes companies have agreed to pay $1,143,881.19 to resolve claims arising from Lourdes’ administration of community service grants funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Madison County Woman Agrees to Pay Damages for Submitting False Claims to AmeriCorps Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Madison County woman has agreed to resolve civil allegations that she violated the False Claims Act, a federal law that prohibits the submission of false or fraudulent claims, agreeing to pay the federal government, after admitting that she falsified timesheets that caused her to wrongfully receive federal funds from the AmeriCorps Program.

AmeriCorps VISTA Grantee Failed to Conduct a Compliant National Service Criminal History Check

Closed 6/14/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps VISTA members (VISTA) serving in the Hunger Free America (HFA), New York City, NY, AmeriCorps VISTA program recorded false hours and that HFA staff failed to accurately allocate their time spent on the program.

The investigation found no evidence to support these allegations. However, investigators
determined HFA failed to conduct a compliant National Service Criminal History Check (CHC) on one employee because the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) check was conducted late and not all states reported results. This violated 45 C.F.R. § 2540.204.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings that HFA’s search of the NSOPW was non-compliant due to the NSOPW check being late and incomplete and ultimately disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix.

Case ID 2018-013