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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 Cases

Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) Grantee Required to Repay $143,278.47 for Cost Improperly Charged to the FGP Grant.
2018-01-31

Closed 01-31-2018


The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Office of Inspector General (CNCS-OIG) completed its investigation regarding allegations that volunteers and staff from
Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI), Topeka, KS, Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) falsified timesheets and performed duties outside the scope of the FGP grant.


The investigation revealed the following findings:


1. KNI violated 18 USC § 287 False, fictitious, or fraudulent claims, when they allowed KNI’s FGP assistant director to spend up to 70 percent o f h e r t ime performing non-FGP duties associated with her former KNI position, even though the grant required her to spend 100 percent of her time on KNI's FGP matters;


2. KNI violated 45 CFR § 2552.25 What are a sponsor's administrative responsibilities?, subsection (c), when they allowed KNI’s FGP former project director to concurrently serve as the volunteer treasurer for the National Association of Foster Grandparent Program Directors (NAFGPD) while working as full-time director for KNI's FGP, contrary to FGP regulations and KNI's FGP grant agreement which required the sponsor to employ a project director full-time and dedicate 100 percent of their time managing KNI’s FGP grant;


3. KNI’s former project director (PD) violated 18 USC § 287 False, fictitious, or fraudulent claims, when the PD submitted timesheets for the last five years that falsely claimed she spent 100 percent of her time working on FGP matters when in fact she spent approximately 75 percent of her time performing non-FGP duties; and


4. The former PD violated 18 USC § 287 False, fictitious, or fraudulent claims when she improperly authorized FGP volunteers to claim five hours of stipend payments during inservice training and/or recognition events even though the FGP volunteers were usually at the events for no more than three hours.

 

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and required KNI to repay $143,278.47 for cost improperly charged to the FGP grant.


Case ID 2016-032

Grantee Submitted False Claims and Directed AmeriCorps Members to Displace Staff
2018-01-26

Closed 01/26/2018


The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Office of Inspector General (CNCS-OIG) received an allegation that the executive director for Ashby House, Salina, KS, improperly managed the AmeriCorps program. Investigation by CNCS-OIG and the Kansas Volunteer Commission (Commission), Topeka, KS, determined the executive director violated:

 

18 USC § 287 - False Claims, when the executive director improperly utilized members to perform various duties outside the scope of the grant and improperly charged a printer to the grant; and

 

45 CFR § 2540.100 – Displacement, when the executive director improperly utilized AmeriCorps members (members) to perform various duties normally performed by Ashby House employees.


Agency/Administrative Actions
CNCS management and the Commission concurred with the CNCS-OIG findings. The Commission immediately suspended Ashby House’s AmeriCorps grant and subsequently conducted a comprehensive review of the program. The Commission disallowed $7,656.66 for (1) expenses improperly charged to the grant, (2) displacement, (3) member service performed
outside the scope of the grant, and (4) timesheet non-compliance.


Ashby House was allowed to complete their 2016-2017 grant under close supervision by the Commission. However, due to management concerns, the Commission elected not to renew Ashby House’s AmeriCorps grant application for 2017-2018.


Case ID: 2017-004

Retired Senior Volunteer Service Grantee Failed to Complete National Service Criminal History Check, Accurately Report the Number of Volunteers, Failed to Conduct Volunteer Station Assessments and Update the Volunteer Station Memorandum of Understanding
2017-11-01

Closed 11/01/2017


The Corporation for National & Community Service, Office of the Inspector General (CNCS-OIG), has completed its investigation regarding allegations that employees from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, intentionally submitted inaccurate time and attendance and inflated the number of RSVPs enrolled on their Progress Report to CNCS.


The investigation found no evidence to support the allegation that employees falsified or submitted inaccurate time and attendance. However, the investigation concluded RSVP of Tulsa demonstrated a lack of due diligence in ensuring the RSVP grant was properly administered. RSVP of Tulsa violated:


- 45 CFR § 2540.204 when they failed to complete the National Service Criminal History Check (CHC) on a covered employee. Additionally, RSVP of Tulsa did not use the approved repository (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) or received approval to use alternative search procedures to conduct the former employee’s background check;


- 45 CFR § 2553.25(g) when they intentionally did not accurately report the number of RSVP volunteers in the program. The executive director for RSVP Tulsa admitted to utilizing the number of participants for a Tai Chi class to be counted as RSVP volunteers. The seniors enrolled in the Tai Chi class were only participants and did not perform any service related
activities; and


- 45 CFR § 2553.23 when they failed to update the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and conduct the required annual assessments of the volunteer stations. The executive director admitted RSVP of Tulsa did not perform reliable verification of the volunteer service hours. In addition, 20 percent of the MOU’s were expired.


Agency/Administrative Actions:
CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG findings and took the following actions: (1) disallowed $1,500, in accordance with the CNCS disallowance matrix, for the period the former employee worked without a completed CHC; (2) instructed the RSVP of Tulsa on MOU requirements. Five MOUs were updated and the remaining expired MOUs were transitioned to inactive status; and (3) provided technical assistance related to enrollment of RSVP volunteers and appropriate service activities. RSVP of Tulsa was directed to revise the affected annual progress report (PPR) and exclude participants of the Tai Chi class from its volunteer counts throughout the report.


Case ID 2017-011

Grantee Submitted False Claims, Improperly Charged for Unallowable Match, and Directed AmeriCorps Members to Displace Staff.
2017-10-30

Closed 10/30/2017

 

CNCS-OIG received a hotline allegation that the director of operations (director), Center for People in Need (CFPIN), Lincoln, NE, improperly managed various aspects of the CFPIN AmeriCorps program.

 

Investigation by the CNCS-OIG and Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission (Commission) found that the director violated:

45 CFR § 2540.100 – Nondisplacement, when AmeriCorps members (members) were directed to perform work ordinarily performed by a paid employee.  CFPIN operated an English as a Second Language (ESL) program with a grant from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), that included funding for paid instructors.  When the paid instructors resigned, the Director improperly utilized AmeriCorps members to teach ESL.  The director never hired replacement ESL instructors nor did the director notify the Commission or USCIS about the use of members to teach ESL.

 

18 USC § 287 - False Claims, when the director improperly charged the AmeriCorps grant for salaries of program staff who could not quantify time spent on the AmeriCorps program versus time spent on other programs.  In addition, the director also improperly charged the AmeriCorps grant for staff who were not assigned to the AmeriCorps program.

 

2 CFR § 200.306 (b) - Billing for Unallowable Match, when the director provided AmeriCorps members with donated items (food, clothing, merchandise) and then improperly claimed the value of those items as part of the non-Federal match charged to the AmeriCorps grant.

 

Agency/Administrative Actions:

CNCS management and the Commission concurred with the CNCS-OIG findings.  The commission disallowed $47,063.25 in education awards for AmeriCorps members who improperly received a full or partial education award.  After disallowing the match, the Commission found CFPIN still met the minimum match requirements for the AmeriCorps grant.  The Commission declined to renew CFPIN’s AmeriCorps grants for subsequent grant years and reported the Director was terminated.

 

Case ID: 2016-027

AmeriCorps Members Displace Staff and Perform Service Outside the Scope of the Grant, Unauthorized Use of Match Funds, and AmeriCorps Members Submitted Fraudulent Timesheets.
2017-10-18

Closed 10/18/2017


An anonymous complainant alleged Center for Family Services (CFS), Camden, NJ, directed AmeriCorps members (member) to displace paid staff.  In addition, members were submitting fraudulent timesheets. 

 

The CNCS-OIG investigation found that CFS violated (1) the CFS AmeriCorps grant when they assigned members to perform service outside the scope of the grant, (2) 45 CFR § 2540.100 (e) when they required members as part of their service to perform activities substantially similar to those already performed by an employee (teacher/assistant teacher), and (3) 45 CFR § 2521.45 when they failed to comply with match requirements.  In addition, two former members violated 18 USC § 1001 when they knowingly submitted fraudulent timesheets. 

 

Interviews of members and staff revealed that CFS violated 45 CFR § 2540.100 and their AmeriCorps grant terms and conditions when they (1) routinely assigned members duties duplicated the role of a paid staff in the classroom and (2) performed service outside the scope of the grant.  Based on the grant terms, members were to provide academic and social support to individual or small groups of children and thereby foster early literacy and social skills.  However, the investigation found there was no clear distinction between staff or the members.  CFS management and the site supervisors confirmed there was little to no difference between the assistant teacher duties and member’s service.  In fact, the roles were so similar, members were frequently assigned to cover as the assistant teacher when staff were late or absent. 

 

To meet the match requirements of the AmeriCorps grant, CFS used Head Start Program grant funds as the source of match for grant years 2013 through 2016.  However, coordination with Health and Human Services personnel revealed this was an unallowable use of Head Start grant funds.  The Head Start Program match funds for grant year 2016, was approximately $137,000.

 

Two members admitted to CNSC-OIG investigators of inflating their services hours on their timesheets.  The members claimed to have performed their service, but overstated on their timesheets the number of hours they actually served. 

 

Agency/Administrative Actions:

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG recommendation and took the following actions: (1) disallowed $140,885 in match funds, (2) directed the New Jersey Commission to take appropriate corrective actions to prevent members from performing activities inconsistent with and outside the scope of the grant agreement, and (3) both members that inflated their timesheets were exited from the program without an Education Award.  In addition, the CFS’ 2017 grant was placed on hold until CFS presented evidence of adequate match funding.

 

Case ID 2016-026

Failure to Follow Proper Procedures Leads to Changes for Agency Personnel
2017-09-29

Closed 9/29/2017

 

 

CNCS-OIG received an allegation that a CNCS State Program Officer may have falsified documents when she awarded a VISTA grant.

 

The investigation found no evidence that the employee falsified documents pertaining to the awarding of the VISTA grant; however, the employee failed to follow the VISTA Desk Reference guidelines when she failed to obtain the proper documents and verify the 501(c) (3) nonprofit status before awarding the VISTA grant.

The employee also did not exercise due diligence when she failed to verify that an executive director of the joint venture VISTA program was authorized to sign the VISTA grant application(s) on behalf of the legal entity.

 

Based on the investigation findings, CNCS-OIG recommended CNCS management add a certification block or a checklist showing that the required documents were obtained and/or verified in the grant management system prior to awarding or funding a grant. 

 

Agency/Administrative Actions:

The employee resigned her position.  CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG recommendations and implemented changes requiring employees to document the verification of the required documents prior to grant award.

 

 

Case ID: 2017-013

AmeriCorps Members Displaced Staff While Earning Education Award Leads to Disallowed Costs
2017-09-06

Closed 9/5/2017

 

A Hotline caller alleged that staff at the YMCA of Cass and Clay County (YMCA), Fargo, ND, were using AmeriCorps members (members) to fill staff positions and perform duties unrelated to their AmeriCorps position descriptions. 

 

The CNCS-OIG investigation disclosed that the YMCA staff violated 45 CFR § 2540.100(f) Nondisplacement, when they knowingly allowed 13 members to fill vacant staff positions (daycare teachers/assistant teachers) with the YMCA’s School Age Learning Center (SLC) program for up to three months until the YMCA could hire suitable employees. 

 

Additionally, the YMCA staff violated 42 U.S.C. § 12602 when they improperly awarded Segal Education Awards to eight members whose portion of service hours consisted of staff displacement. 

 

The YMCA staff violated the terms and conditions of the AmeriCorps grant when a YMCA staff employee performed the duties of both the AmeriCorps program coordinator and AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator even though the grant application stated the YMCA would have separate employees performing the duties.  Additionally, both positions were charged to the grant as matching funds.

 

The YMCA also violated the terms and conditions of the AmeriCorps grant when they assigned members to the YMCA’s XERZONE so they could watch the children of patrons who utilized the YMCA’s facilities (exercise room, gym, pool, classes).  Members assigned to the YMCA’s XERZONE experienced significant amount of idle time when children were not present.  During those idle times, the YMCA did not assign any productive service for the members. 

 

Agency/Administrative Actions:

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG recommendations and took the following action: (1) disallowed and recouped $22,312 in stipend payments disbursed to thirteen members placed in staff positions; (2) disallowed and recouped $22, 237.86 in Segal Education Awards awarded to eight members whose hours included staff displacement; and (3) elevate the risk level of the North Dakota Commission due to the poor program management of the YMCA grant.  CNCS management declined to disallow any staff salary used as non-Federal match because the YMCA’s match contribution (50 percent of total project) exceeded the legally required match amount (38 percent of the total project). 

 

In addition to the aforementioned action by CNCS management, the North Dakota Commission implemented a corrective action plan to ensure the YMCA provided better training to the members and utilized the members more effectively.  

Case D: 2016-006

AmeriCorps Grantee Executive Director Found Guilty and Debarred for Submitting Fraudulent Timesheets
2017-08-29

Closed 2017-08-28

 

A joint investigation with the Lordsburg New Mexico Police Department found that Ms. Mary Cristina Ortiz, Executive Director, The Wellness Coalition, Lordsburg, NM, defrauded the U.S. Government when she allowed two AmeriCorps members (Ms. Ortiz’ children) to submit timesheets that falsely claim they performed AmeriCorps service in Lordsburg, NM, while they attended college in another state.  Ms. Ortiz actions resulted in the loss of $16,500 in Federal funds.

On April, 13, 2017, Ms. Ortiz pled guilty to one count of fraud in violation of Article 16, § 30-16-6 New Mexico Statutes Annotated.   On May 16, 2017, the 6th Judicial District, Lordsburg, NM, accepted Ms. Ortiz’ plea and ordered  she: (1) serve three years of supervised probation; (2) pay $16,000 in restitution; (3) provide  a written public apology to the Lordsburg, NM, community; (4) and remain a law-abiding citizen. 

Agency/Administrative Action:  On August 14, 2017, as a result of the investigation, CNCS management debarred Ms. Ortiz for a period of three years.

 

Case ID: 2016-012

Allegations of Prohibited Activities (Attempt to Influence Legislation, Displacement and Service Outside the Scope of the Grant (Unfounded)
2017-08-10

Closed 2017-08-10

 

CNCS-OIG investigators found no evidence to support a Hotline call alleging that AmeriCorps members with the Volunteers in Service to America, Student Veterans of America, Washington, DC, a service site of the American Legion Auxiliary, Indianapolis, IN., engaged in prohibited activities to influence proposed legislation related to the GI Bill or performed service unrelated to their official VISTA duties.

 

Case ID: 2017-010

Improper National Sex Offender Public Website Checks/Displacement and Improper Use of Members Leads to Disallowed Cost
2017-07-25

A CNCS-OIG investigation found that AmeriCorps members with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), Virginia Beach, VA, displaced staff and performed activities outside the scope of the grant.  The investigation was opened based on a hotline allegation.

 

The investigation also revealed that the current and former Program Directors (1) improperly disbursed Federal grant funds by assigning three members to perform service outside the scope of the grant; (2) violated 45 CFR § 2540.100(e) and (f) by assigning members to duplicate activity and displace staff positions of service site employees, and (3) violated 45 CFR § 2522.230 when they certified partial Education Awards for three members who did not meet the award requirements.  The former director also violated 45 CFR § 2540.204 by failing to conduct timely National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) checks on six members.

 

During its investigation, CNCS-OIG investigators also discovered the Virginia Office on Volunteerism and Community Service (Commission) failed to identify several instances of noncompliance, because it did not adequately monitor DVS.  The Commission also failed to follow the CNCS National Service Criminal History Checks (NSCHC) Interim Disallowance Guide regarding cost disallowance for NSCHCs and expanding the scope of file review. 

 

Agency/Administrative Action: CNCS management reported they concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings that DVS tasked members to serve outside the scope of the grant and would disallow living allowances and Education Awards for those three members totaling $24,193.50.  DVS also failed to conduct timely and complete NSOPW checks on six members and disallowed $9,000.  CNCS also directed the Commission to review all members’ files for NSCHC compliance and the service for some of DVS’s service sites.  CNCS already provided on-site training to the Commission and confirmed the Commission recently revised its monitoring policies and procedures.

 

Case ID: 2016-023

Closed: 2017-07-25

Allegation of Prohibited Activity – Unfounded
2017-07-24

A CNCS-OIG investigation found no evidence that two AmeriCorps members assigned to a family planning center in Chicago, IL engaged in prohibited activity when they attended an abortion procedure. 

Acting on a hotline allegation prohibited activity, CNCS-OIG found that two AmeriCorps members were offered the opportunity to observe an abortion procedure, because one of the members was a future medical student interested in obstetrics and gynecology.  The members attended the procedure on June 14, 2017 after they clocked out from their AmeriCorps service and ensured that their attendance was not affiliated with their AmeriCorps enrollment. 

Agency/Administrative Action: None

Case ID: 2017-016

Closed 2017-07-24

AmeriCorps Members Displace Teachers in Classroom
2017-06-07

The OIG received hotline allegations that AmeriCorps members assigned to the Summit Tutoring Corps (Summit), Redwood City, CA, were displacing staff. Members at Summit, a subgrantee of The Match Foundation Incorporated (Match Foundation) in Boston, MA, were assigned to provide intensive small group tutoring in math and reading to students in grades 6 through 12. The caller alleged that the Summit members alone managed Personalized Learning Time (PLT) classes, which a paid teacher previously lead.

 

CNCS-OIG investigators found Summit staff violated 45 CFR § 2540.100(f) Nondisplacement, when members were placed to manage PLT classes as part of their AmeriCorps service. The PLT classes were independent study periods that occurred several times a day. The classroom size ranged from 20 to 43 students from all grade levels and required one member to independently manage per session. The members were (1) required to maintain discipline in the class, (2) ensure the students were productive, and (3) proctor the Content Assessment Test. The members performed little to no tutoring during the PLT classes compared to their normal tutoring service.

 

Investigators also discovered that members at one school, as part of their AmeriCorps service, were directed to fill in as a receptionist after the receptionist was terminated.  In addition, members were also required to be perform lunch monitor duties; the members were required to maintain control and oversee the students during lunch. Summit also allowed members to count their lunch break as part of their AmeriCorps service hours.

 

Agency/Administrative Action: CNCS management informed CNCS-OIG they concurred with the finding of displacement and disallowed service hours for the members that performed receptionist duties. CNCS management also disallowed service hours for the members who claimed hours during lunch in which they were not engaged with students.

 

CNCS management disagreed with the CNCS-OIG finding that members displaced teachers in the Personalized Learning Time (PLT). CNCS management reported that after reviewing the information provided by Summit, CNCS found that the assignment of a member to a PLT class did not result in staff displacement. The nature of the PLT class had changed to provide students an opportunity to receive direct tutoring from members, rather than being a time for self-directed student activity akin to a study hall when it was supervised by a teacher. They claimed that the Match Foundation program focused on delivering tutoring services to improve students’ academic achievement, but AmeriCorps members were also expected to be fully integrated into school operations, including supporting the school’s student behavioral expectations. Member participation in the PLT class contributes to the overall relationship between AmeriCorps member tutors and the students.

 

CNCS-OIG disagreed with CNCS management’s conclusion that the members placed in PLT classes did not displace teachers. As stated in 45 CFR § 2540.100(f)(6)(i) “A participant in any program receiving assistance under this chapter may not perform services or duties that have been performed by or were assigned to any (i) Presently employed worker”  The investigation discovered that prior to the arrival of the AmeriCorps members, as part of their duties, PLT classes were managed by the teachers. Once the members arrived, the PLT duties were removed from the teachers and given to the members as part of their AmeriCorps service.

 

Additionally, CNCS management claimed that Summit added direct tutoring from the members to the PLT classes. However, the teachers’ also “tutored” students when they helped them with homework assignments and prepared them for the assessment test during the PLT classes. Members would still be able to “be integrated into school operations, including supporting the school’s student behavioral expectations”, if they were preforming proper service.

 

Case ID: 2017-007

 

Allegation of Ineligible Senior Corps Volunteer (Unsubstantiated) / Failure to Complete Background Checks (Founded) Case ID: 2017-008
2017-04-19

Closed 2017-04-19

 

This investigation was initiated after CNCS program personnel discovered during a compliance monitoring visit that a Senior Companion Program (SCP) volunteer in Delaware may have failed to report his prior sex offense convictions to the State of Delaware making him ineligible to serve.

 

CNCS management reported that the volunteer enrolled in the SCP on May 19, 2015; however, program officials did not conduct a National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) search until June 12, 2015. Program officials reviewed the NSOPW results and determined that none of the individuals listed was the volunteer. Both FBI and Delaware State Criminal History Checks (CHC) were initiated on March 27, 2015. The state check came back with negative results on April 10, 2015. Before the FBI results were returned in early September 2016, the volunteer resigned from the program on June 30, 2016. The FBI results found that the volunteer had three sexual offense convictions that occurred prior to 1982 in North Carolina.

 

The investigation found that the volunteer had a legal obligation to report his prior convictions to the State of Delaware to determine if he was required to register with the state’s public sex offender registry. Since there was no evidence to prove or disprove that the volunteer complied with the requirement, CNCS management disallowed the cost.

 

CNCS program personnel also found that the grantee, First State Community Action Agency, was noncompliant when it failed to conduct timely and/or complete NSOPWs and CHCs for numerous staff and volunteers. CNCS disallowed costs and required improvements to the grantee’s policies and training.

 

Agency/Administrative Action: As a result of the compliance visit findings, CNCS management disallowed $3,884.24 for the alleged ineligible volunteer and $15,625 for the late or incomplete background checks. CNCS also required the grantee to update its staff and volunteer files.

Allegations of Unallowable Service Hours and Mileage Reimbursement (Unsubstantiated)
2017-04-04

Closed 2017-04-04

 

This investigation was initiated based on Hotline allegations from an individual who requested anonymity, who alleged that some members assigned to the California Tribal AmeriCorps Program had inflated their service hours and/or claimed mileage reimbursement from their place of residence to their service sites.

 

The investigation found insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegations that members inflated their service hours and/or claimed mileage reimbursement from their place of residence to their service sites.

 

The results of the investigation were provided to the CNCS management for additional review during its monitoring reviews to ensure that the grantee adheres to the grant provisions.

 

Case ID: 2017-002

Allegations of Displacement Leads to Program Review
2017-04-03

Closed 2017-04-03

 

This investigation was initiated based on Hotline allegations from an anonymous complainant who reported staff displacement, inaccurate timekeeping and lack of supervision at the AmeriCorps program. 

 

Investigators discovered that grantee members at two service sites were assigned duties which would ordinarily be performed by staff employees, a violation of 45 CFR § 2540.100(f) – Nondisplacement. 

 

Investigators found no evidence to support the allegations of lack of supervision or fraudulent timesheets. 

 

CNCS management reported that the New York Commission on National and Community Service (Commission) personnel looked into the CNCS-OIG findings and determined that the service provided by the members was not outside the scope of the grant or the members’ position description.  The Commission reviewed the circumstances of the program and found that, in a few cases during the time period immediately following member initiation and while undergoing orientation, some members were not fully engaged in regular service. The Commission does not believe this was widespread or significant.

 

CNCS management reported that the intermittent performance of inappropriate service did not call into question the members living allowance, nor affect their education awards.  Additionally, several of the members exited without an education award or were not eligible to earn a ward. Therefore, no funds were disallowed or education awards reduced. 

 

Case ID: 2016-030

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