Education Affiliates (EA), a for-profit education company based in White Marsh, Maryland, has agreed to pay $13 million to the United States to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Department of Education for federal student aid for students enrolled in its programs. EA operates 50 campuses in the United States under various trade names, including All State Career, Fortis Institute, Fortis College, Tri-State Business Institute Inc., Technical Career Institute Inc., Capps College Inc., Driveco CDL Learning Center, Denver School of Nursing and Saint Paul’s School of Nursing, which provide post-secondary education training programs in several professions in the states of Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Texas.
The government alleged that employees at EA’s All State Career campus in Baltimore altered admissions test results so as to admit unqualified students, created false or fraudulent high school diplomas and falsified students’ federal aid applications, and that multiple EA schools referred prospective students to “diploma mills” to obtain invalid online high school diplomas. These allegations also led to criminal convictions of two All State Careers admission representatives, Barry Sugarman and Jesse Moore, and a test proctor, Jacqueline Caldwell.
“Students who apply for federal financial aid to attend trade and professional schools are required to show that they have the necessary skills to complete the educational program and work in the field,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland. “This settlement resolves the government’s allegations that Education Affiliates defrauded the government by changing students’ test scores and enrolling students with invalid diploma mill high school “Ödiplomas’ ordered online.”
The settlement agreement also resolves allegations related to EA schools in Birmingham, Alabama, Houston and Cincinnati, including violations of the ban on incentive compensation for enrollment personnel, misrepresentations of graduation and job placement rates, alteration of attendance records and enrollment of unqualified students.
The settlement resolves five lawsuits filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share in the recovery. As part of this resolution, the five whistleblowers will receive payments totaling approximately $1.8 million.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers but not in these cases.