In a case initiated by Ross Feller Casey, a for-profit beauty school in the Lehigh Valley has agreed to pay $425,000 in fines for allegedly seeking federal aid for students who were not eligible for such government assistance.
The federal government recently announced the settlement with the Allentown, Pa.-based Metro Beauty Academy, LLC, or MBA. The agreement resolves allegations brought by a whistleblower who was represented by attorney Brian McCormick Jr., of Ross Feller Casey in Philadelphia.
“We are pleased with the outcome, which would not have been possible without the extremely hard work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and investigators from the Department of Education,” said McCormick, who, as one of the nation’s top qui tam attorneys, has resolved numerous multimillion cases on behalf of those who have blown the whistle on fraud. “We were proud to represent this very brave whistleblower who refused to go along with fraud and lost her job as a consequence.”
McCormick brought the case under the federal government’s False Claims Act, which allows a private individual who knows about fraud committed against the federal government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government. The whistleblower in the case received a portion of the settlement amount.
After the lawsuit was filed, the United States Attorney’s office conducted an investigation that focused on allegations that, from 2009 through the end of 2013, the school knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted claims for federal financial aid from students ineligible to receive such assistance.
Those students did not have high school diplomas or equivalents when they enrolled at MBA, which is required to seek aid, the government alleged. Additionally, the government alleged that the MBA staff created fake diplomas for students or encouraged students to obtain false credentials from “diploma mills.”
“When a school receives financial educational assistance for ineligible students, it is unfair not only to other educational institutions that comply with the regulations, but also to the students attending the non-compliant school who may find themselves unqualified for employment and saddled with debt,” U.S. Attorney McSwain said in announcing the settlement.
If you or someone you know has information about fraud involving federal, state, or local funds, the time to contact a whistleblower lawyer is now as your time to file a case may be limited. Ross Feller Casey handles all its cases, including whistleblower lawsuits, on a contingency basis, which means you will not pay a thing until a financial recovery is made.
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