The Department of Justice just announced that Universal Helicopters Inc. (UHI) and Dodge City Community College (DC3) have agreed to pay $7.5 million to resolve allegations of violating the False Claims Act (FCA). It was alleged that UHI and DC3 falsely certified compliance with a requirement implemented to avert abuse of funds from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)— the “85/15 Rule”.
UHI is a private helicopter flight instructor training company that offered a program in conjunction with the DC3 campuses located in Dodge City, Kansas, and Chandler, Arizona. Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, the VA provides tuition and fee payments to qualifying schools. Institutions must certify that no more than 85 percent of students, in any particular course, are receiving VA benefits to receive veterans’ education benefits. The 85/15 rule was designed to ensure institutions are offering fair market value tuition rates and not unfairly inflating prices because of guaranteed VA payments.
According to the government, from 2013 to 2018, almost all students enrolled in the UHI/DC3 flight instructor program received VA benefits. It was specifically alleged that DC3 counted part-time students, only enrolled in one online class, to satisfy the 85/15 rule when true compliance only compares VA supported students to full-time non-VA supported students. UHI agreed to pay $7 million and DC3 agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve the government’s allegations. William Rowe, a veteran and former student of the UHI/DC3 flight instructor program, will receive $1.125 million of the foregoing settlement. Rowe initiated this action under the qui tam provision of the FCA. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, commented “[t]he department will continue to help safeguard the integrity of VA programs intended for the advancement and benefit of veterans.”
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection to False Claims Act litigation, government investigations, and cybersecurity fraud investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.