Tutoring company, 4 indicted for defrauding Education Department
SAN JUAN – On Aug. 1, a federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment charging Creative Educational and Psychological Services Inc.; its president, Coral Rivera-Arroyo; and three employees with, among other charges, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit theft and theft of government money and property, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced Tuesday.
The indictment alleges that from about 2011 to 2014, four people “engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to defraud by invoicing and charging the Puerto Rico Department of Education for services that were not rendered or were not payable under Creative’s contract,” the Justice Department said.
Creative allegedly reported having provided Supplemental Educational Services (SES) tutoring, under the No Child Left Behind Act for disadvantaged students, when “not all of the invoiced services for SES tutoring had been provided to all of the students.”
The contractor is being accused of a scheme to defraud that included, “but was not limited to the fabrication of false biometric attendance records; false records supporting manual attendance entries; false records supporting the notification of the post-test; and forging the signatures of students, parents, and teachers in the records.”
The Justice Department said Creative “employees and/or contractors, knowingly caused” the Education Department to issue more than 3o checks payable to Creative totaling $24,927,125.56 in U.S. Education Department funds for invoices containing false information and forged signatures.
“Supplemental Education Services program funds provide critical resources for deserving students who seek to improve their academic performance. Individuals and businesses who choose to illegally enrich themselves at the expense of our students and the U.S. taxpayer, instead of providing the educational services invoiced, will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” Rodríguez-Vélez said.
If found guilty, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth A. Erbe. The Department of Education-Office of Inspector General, and the FBI are in charge of the investigation with the assistance of the Puerto Rico Comptroller’s Office.