LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — United States Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas A. Trutanich and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William M. McSwain jointly announced that Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (Catholic Charities) has agreed to pay $206,368.35 to resolve claims arising from its administration of community service grants funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
From 2003 until 2018, Catholic Charities administered multiple grants in CNCS’s Senior Corps program. These grants included the Foster Grandparent Program, which places seniors in school and community settings to serve youth with exceptional needs, and the Senior Companion Program, which places seniors in community and residential settings to assist other seniors who have difficulty with tasks of daily living. These programs provide small hourly stipends to the volunteers performing these services.
The settlement resolves claims that in 2014 and 2015, Catholic Charities’ employees who oversaw the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs falsified records for the stipend recipients. They also directed recipients to falsify records, leading to CNCS grant funds being used to pay stipends for hours that were never actually worked, were in violation of program requirements, or were inflated.
When Catholic Charities executive management discovered the fraudulent actions of its employees, it voluntarily disclosed them through the CNCS-OIG hotline. It terminated the employees who had perpetrated the fraud and cooperated fully in the United States’ investigation of its administration of these grants. In 2018, Catholic Charities relinquished the grants entirely.
“Each day, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada feeds the hungry, provides shelter for the homeless, and supports families and seniors in need of assistance. The federal government relies on its non-profit partners to help ensure that federal grant funds are being used to assist their communities,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Today’s settlement is a reminder that everyone receiving federal grant funds must adhere to grant compliance requirements and self-report misuse of federal grant funds, as Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada did here.”
“Every federal grantee, including community service organizations, is required to honestly and openly report the service that its volunteers perform. Every dollar spent on an hour that was not actually served is one that is not available to support other community service efforts,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Strict compliance with grant requirements ensures that federal funds reach those who need it most.”
“Catholic Charities acted responsibly upon discovering fraud, promptly reported the misconduct, cooperated actively with the investigation and willingly made the taxpayers whole,” said CNCS’s Inspector General Deborah J. Jeffrey. “As a result, Catholic Charities was appropriately spared substantial penalties and fines. We thank our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Nevada for protecting the integrity of CNCS.”
United States Attorneys Trutanich and McSwain also praised Catholic Charities’ work in addressing the issues in these programs: “We commend Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada for promptly reporting these issues when they were discovered and for working with the Department of Justice and the Corporation for National and Community Service to make the government whole. We hope this settlement will serve as a message to other senior managers to be vigilant in overseeing government-funded programs and to ensure that their employees do not attempt to conceal any non-compliance. All organizations accepting federal funds should take their responsibility to the American taxpayers seriously to come forward promptly and cooperate fully if they discover that they have not lived up to their promises.”
This investigation was conducted jointly by the United States Attorney’s Offices for the District of Nevada and Eastern District of Pennsylvania with the Corporation for National and Community Service Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Troy Flake of the District of Nevada and Paul W. Kaufman and Veronica Finkelstein of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania handled the investigation and settlement. This case was initiated as a part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Strike Force focus on grant fraud.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.