WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – A career school located in Killeen and its director have been ordered to pay over $9 million in damages and civil penalties for defrauding the Post9/11 GI Bill.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that the ELPSS Career Institute LLC and Ricky J. Daniels, Jr. were in federal court in Waco – and must pay $9,024,886.99 under the False Claims Act for defrauding the Bill – which provides financial support to members of the military, veterans, and eligible dependents who enroll in certain education programs.
A non-accredited career school such as the ELPSS Career Institute must operate for at least two years before it may enroll students receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill 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 in the U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Texas alleging that Daniels falsely certified to the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) and the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) 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.
The United States alleged that Daniels formed ELPSS Career Institute less than a year before applying for approval. According to the United States, Daniels 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.
Following the 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 ELPSS Career Institute 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.
U.S. District Judge Alan D. Judge Albright adopted the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, granting the government’s motion and awarding it $9,024,886.99.