Rich Rezler Dec. 4, 2014, 10:42am

The largest community college district in the United States has agreed to pay $4.08 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims to secure state and national grants, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Monday.

Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), based in Phoenix, serves more than 260,000 students each year. It allegedly improperly certified that students had completed the required number of service hours to qualify for an AmeriCorps education award from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

MCCCD obtained AmeriCorps funding for a program that engaged students in national service. The certification led to CNCS granting education awards to the students and MCCCD received grant funds to administer the project.

“Our internal process uncovered MCCCD’s mismanagement, and we worked with the Justice Department to ensure that taxpayer dollars were recovered,” CNCS General Counsel Valerie Green said. “This is an example of how interagency collaboration works.”

The allegations first arose from a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act by MCCCD employee Christine Hunt. Under the False Claims Act, citizens can sue on behalf of the government and share in any recovery. Hunt received $775,827. 

United States ex rel. Hunt v. Maricopa County Community College District; Paula and Richard Vaughn, No. 11-cv-2241.

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