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

Review of Information Technology Inventory Accountability Leads to Policy Changes

An OIG audit of the Corporation’s fiscal year 2011 financial statements found that the Corporation lacked an adequate system for recording and tracking its IT assets.  We conducted a proactive review of the recording and tracking system the Corporation uses safeguard its Information Technology (IT) property and equipment in order to identify crime conducive activities.  Personnel from the agency’s Office of Information Technology reported that they were in the process of developing new policies for tracking IT inventory and a system to track and report IT inventory on a quarterly basis.  The agency also updated its Computer Property Management policy to reflect tighter control of IT inventory.

 

Case ID: 2012-004

Illinois Commission Finds Insufficient Evidence that Illinois AmeriCorps Director Falsified Timesheets

The OIG received a Hotline allegation that an Illinois AmeriCorps director fraudulently certified AmeriCorps member timesheets, thereby allowing several ineligible members to receive living allowances and an education award for which they were not entitled.  We referred this matter to Corporation management for follow up.

Corporation management reported that the Illinois Commission conducted an investigation into the allegations.  Commission personnel interviewed and reviewed the timesheets of members.  Commission personnel reported there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations.

 

Case ID: 2012-003

Florida Retired Senior Volunteer Program Relinquishes Grant

The OIG received information that program officials from a Florida Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) failed to update the RSVP station rosters, to accurately reflect the number of current RSVP volunteers and active stations.  The caller indicated that this allowed the grantee to receive federal program funds it was not entitled.

A review of the station rosters revealed some the sites did not actually reflect the current number of volunteers or operational RSVP service sites.  Investigation revealed although the grantee mismanaged the program there was no loss of Federal funds.  Corporation management reported that the grantee relinquished its grants.

 

Case ID: 2012-002

New Orleans AmeriCorps Program to Repay Program Funds

Based on preliminary findings of an OIG audit, the OIG initiated an investigation into allegations that a Louisiana AmeriCorps grantee Chief Executive Officer (CEO) improperly used Corporation and matching grant funds for personal purchases, family vacations, and his personal business.

Our preliminary investigation disclosed that the CEO received a $1,200 monthly expense account in addition to his annual salary.  A preliminary review of the grantee fiscal documents disclosed that the grantee co-mingled its AmeriCorps funding with other funds it received from other outside sources.  This created difficulties in identifying whether Federal funds were misused.  However, the review did disclose similar findings to the audit findings, including disallowable costs associated with several expenditures.  Our preliminary investigation neither proved nor disproved that the CEO fraudulently misapplied Federal program funds.  The audit questioned $837,380 in program costs; therefore, the OIG investigation was closed and deferred to the audit resolution for collection of the disallowed costs.

 

Case ID: 2011-040

Michigan Senior Program Failed to Properly Document Fiscal Costs

The OIG received a Hotline allegation that a Michigan Senior Companion Program (SCP) and Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) Chief Executive Officer had misapplied grant funds when she authorized a percentage of salary for employees, whose duties were not related to the SCP and FGP, to be paid with funds received from the grants.

Our investigation confirmed that non-grant employees were paid with SCP/FGP grant funds totaling $24,681.65.  We forwarded our results to Corporation management for action.

Corporation management subsequently discovered that the costs were allowable after learning that the government’s cognizant agency had approved a substitute salary and wage system for direct and indirect costs.  The Corporation did take some administrative oversight action concerning the grantee’s documentation.

 

Case ID: 2011-039

Maryland NCCC Member Sentenced for Sexual Assault

A joint investigation with the Department of Veterans Administration OIG disclosed that an AmeriCorps member assigned to a NCCC campus sexually assaulted another NCCC AmeriCorps member.

The former member was prosecuted and sentenced for a period of six years, three of which were suspended.  Upon his release, the individual will be placed on supervised probation for a period of three years and registered as a sex offender.

 

Case ID: 2011-037

Applicant Enrolls in Multiple VISTA Programs Using Multiple Names and Social Security Numbers

A Corporation employee reported that they had discovered that an individual had attempted to enroll in the VISTA during program years 2010 and 2011 utilizing different social security numbers.

Our investigation revealed that the individual had applied to numerous VISTA programs using multiple names and social security numbers.  There was no evidence that the individual received any program funds since the person never served or serves no more than a few weeks at the VISTA sites located in New Jersey, Nebraska and Utah.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia declined to prosecute the individual, if located, citing there was no monetary loss to the Federal Government.  Corporation management is monitoring VISTA applications in the event the individual attempts to reenroll.

 

Case ID: 2011-035

Corporation Employee Alleged to Receive a Paid Vacation from a Corporation Contractor

The OIG received a Hotline allegation that a Corporation employee received a paid vacation, from a former Corporation employee’s company, in exchange for providing information the Corporation employee obtain as part of her official duties.

The investigation revealed the employee sought approval from the agency’s Ethics Officer prior to releasing the information.  There was no evidence that the employee received a paid vacation.

 

Case ID: 2011-029

Kentucky AmeriCorps Member Sentenced and Ordered to Pay Restitution for Stealing Program Funds

A joint investigation with the Kentucky State Police disclosed that an AmeriCorps member embezzled $4,250 in AmeriCorps grant funds when she stole, forged and negotiated grantee checks for personal use.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the individual who was sentenced to three years confinement, which was suspended.  The individual was placed on three years’ supervised probation and required to make restitution.  Corporation management also debarred the individual for a period of three years.

 

Case ID: 2011-024

Texas VISTA Supervisor Debarred for Violating Nepotism Policy

The OIG received information that a VISTA Supervisor violated the Corporation’s VISTA nepotism policy when she knowingly allowed her biological sister and her biological daughter to serve in the VISTA program she supervised.  The VISTA supervisor misled Corporation employees causing the Corporation to disburse $7,774.29 in federal funds to the two ineligible VISTA members.

The Western District of Texas United States Attorney's Office declined prosecution citing that the dollar loss did not meet its office's prosecution threshold.

This matter was referred to Corporation management, who issued a request for payment to the grantee in the amount of $7,774.29.  The VISTA supervisor was also debarred for a two year period.

 

Case ID: 2011-017

U.S. Citizenship not required for Virgin Island Retired Senior Volunteer Program

The OIG received a Hotline allegation that a Virgin Island (VI) Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RVSP) Director was requiring contributions of a $1.00 from each RSVP and Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) volunteer at monthly meetings to support a hospitality fund.  The complaint alleged that the volunteers felt threatened in that if they did not pay the required contribution they would be terminated from the program and believed that the funds were being mishandled.

The investigation determined that after the volunteers voted to keep the hospitality fund program, officials initiated a donation policy outlining the program requirements and how the funding would be used.  There was no evidence that the funds were mishandled.

During our investigation we also reviewed 43 volunteer files from the St. Thomas (VI) RSVP and FGP programs.  During the review of the files it was noted that copies of birth certificates and/or U.S. passports were posted into their files. The review identified that 24 files were missing proper citizenship documentation.  The Corporation's Senior Corps programs do not mandate a check of citizenship as a requirement for enrollment, but it appeared the program required the volunteers to submit proof of citizenship.

Although the Corporation’s Senior Corps programs do not require citizenship verification, a Federal rule enacted by the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 requires that citizenship or legal residency be established for any individuals to participate in grant programs that would provide to the individual a so-called “public benefit.”  
 
We recommended to Corporation management that it undertake an evaluation as to whether the stipends, insurances, transportation assistance, and meals provided to Senior Corps participants under the Senior Corps regulations constitute a “public benefit,” whereby requiring the program to institute eligibility rules based on citizenship or legal migration status.

The Corporation responded with a legal opinion which stated in effect that the Welfare Reform Act does not apply to the Corporation’s Senior Corps Programs; therefore citizenship is not required for its volunteers.

 

Case ID: 2011-016

Atlanta VISTA Member Debarred for Falsifying Childcare Enrollment

The OIG received information that a VISTA member fraudulently received childcare benefits by falsifying his monthly daycare invoices and attendance logs.  The investigation disclosed evidence that the VISTA member submitted false monthly invoices and attendance logs to allow a relative childcare provider to receive $1,065 in childcare benefit payments the individual was not entitled.  The former VISTA member admitted to falsifying the monthly daycare invoices and attendance logs.
    
The Northern District of Georgia, United States Attorney's Office declined prosecution citing that the dollar loss did not meet its office's prosecution threshold.

This matter was referred to Corporation management, who stated a debt letter would not be issued to recover the stolen funds, but did debar the former VISTA member for a period of one year.

 

Case ID: 2011-008

Idaho Foster Grandparent Program Employees Sentenced and Order to Repay Embezzle Funds

The OIG received information that two Foster Grandparent Program grantee employees embezzled $62,763.54, when they fraudulently used the grantee’s credit card for personal use.

Both individuals plead guilty and were prosecuted by the District of Idaho, United States Attorney’s Office.  One individual was sentenced to probation for a term of five years, home detention for a period of nine months, an intermittent term of confinement to be served six consecutive weekends, and pay restitution in the amount of $48,861.47.  The other individual was sentenced to probation for a term of five years, home detention for a period of ninety days, and to pay restitution in the amount of $13,902.07.  Corporation management also debarred both individuals for a period of three years.

 

Case ID: 2011-001

California AmeriCorps Director Sentenced for Falsifying Timesheets and Education Awards / Grantee to Repay Disallowed Educations Awards

The OIG received an allegation that an AmeriCorps director fraudulently inflated AmeriCorps members’ timesheets, and fraudulently certified education awards for which members that were not entitled, totaling $57,700 in education awards.

The results of our investigation were referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, San Diego, CA, for prosecution.  The director plead guilty and was placed in a 24 month pre-trial release program.  The US Attorney’s Civil Section deferred recovery of the funds to the agency.

Corporation management informed the OIG that it concurred with the investigative findings and that the Corporation would seek reimbursement from the grantee for the disallowed costs.

 

Case ID: 2010-017

Oklahoma Foster Grandparent Program Owes $1.3 Billion for Failing to Meet Program Requirements and Misuse of Program Funds

A grantee employee reported that an Oklahoma Foster Grandparents Program (FGP) Executive Director misused FGP program funds when he paid staff employees for preforming non-grant related work that directly benefited the grantee.

Our investigation verified that staff employees were improperly paid with FGP funds for non-grant work by the Executive Director.  The grantee’s attorney informed the OIG that the grantee was unable to locate fiscal records showing how it had expended the FGP grant funds in response to an OIG subpoena.

Corporation management determined that based on the grantees failure to provide documentation of its FGP grant expenditures it disallowed $1,133,297.76 in grant payments it had received.  Corporation management issued the grantee a debt letter requesting repayment of the full amount.

 

Case ID 2009-024