Killeen career school, director to pay $9M for defrauding post-9/11 GI Bill program
WACO, Texas - A career school in Killeen and its director have been ordered to pay just over $9 million for defrauding the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
ELPSS Career Institute LLC and its director Ricky J. Daniels, Jr. were ordered in federal court this week to pay $9,024,886.99 in damages and civil penalties to the United States under the False Claims Act.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support to members of the military, veterans, and their eligible dependents who enroll in certain education programs.
A non-accredited career school must operate for at least two years before it may enroll students receiving those benefits. This requirement is intended to limit the payment of veterans’ benefits to established courses offered at a reasonable cost by seasoned institutions.
In October 2020, the United States filed a complaint alleging that Daniels had falsely certified to the VA and the Texas Veterans Commission that ELPSS Career Institute had been in operation for more than two years in order to obtain approval to enroll Post-9/11 GI Bill students, says the US Attorney's office.
The United States alleged that Daniels formed ELPSS Career Institute less than a year before applying for approval and provided student files from an unaffiliated school in El Paso to the TVC when it conducted a site visit to verify the school’s dates of operation.
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Following discovery, the United States moved for summary judgment under the False Claims Act, which allows the government to recover three times the amount of funds fraudulently obtained plus
a civil penalty for each false claim.
A magistrate judge concluded that the undisputed evidence showed that Daniels knowingly made a false certification regarding ELPSS Career Institute’s compliance with the two-year requirement; that the false certification was material to the VA’s decision to allow the school to receive tuition reimbursement for veterans receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits; and that the false certification caused the VA to disburse more than $2.3 million to the school, says the US Attorney's office.
A U.S. district judge later adopted the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, granting the government’s motion.