FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1994

CIV (202) 616-6275 TDD (202) 514-1888

NEW YORK STATE PAYS U.S. $26.97 MILLION TO SETTLE DISPUTE WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States has received almost $27 million from the State of New York, several New York State colleges and five state employees to settle claims that they knowingly overbilled, falsely billed and improperly billed the federal government to collect funds disbursed for the training of social service workers, the Department of Justice announced today. The federal government disburses funds to states under the Social Security Act for the training of social service workers who will implement such federal programs as Medicaid, adoption and foster care, child support enforcement and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Assistant Attorney General Frank Hunger, in charge of the Civil Division, said the conduct complained of occurred between 1983 and the present. Hunger said the parties executed the settlement agreement on December 20 and today filed a stipulation with U.S. District Court in Washington that dismissed the United States' claims against the defendants. The settling defendants are: The New York State Department of Social Services (NYSDSS); the Office of Human Resource Development (OHRD) of NYSDSS; the State Universities of New York at Albany and Brockport; SUNY Central Administration; the Research Foundation of SUNY; the State University College at Buffalo; the City University of New York; and NYSDSS employees Robert Donahue, Robert Hagstrom, Carol Polnak, Carol DeCosmo and Will Zwink. The investigation by the United States arose from allegations that were made in an action filed on November 14, 1992, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by a former NYSDSS employee, George Denoncourt. The United States alleged in its negotiations with the State that the defendants obtained the funds by filing false claims for the training funds under the Social Security Act. Among other things, the United States alleged that: --NYSDSS, over 12 years, required its private training contractors to provide in-kind "contributions" of the state share of training expenditures, in knowing violation of the Social Security Act's requirement that states pay between 10 and 50 percent of these expenditures. --OHRD, over 12 years, and to assist its private training contractors make in-kind "contributions" of the state share of training expenditures without losing money on their training contracts, knowingly submitted claims for federal funds based upon unallowable, unsubstantiated and/or inflated training contractor costs. --OHRD, over five-and-one-half years, failed to credit fees paid for training by private providers of social services against training costs charged to the federal government, in knowing violation of federal regulations. --OHRD, over 12 years, failed to credit administrative fees

paid by private training contractors against training costs charged to the federal government, in knowing violation of federal regulations. --NYSDSS, SUNY Albany, SUC Buffalo and the Research Foundation of SUNY, over 12 years, knowingly violated federal law by using federal training funds to finance the salaries and related costs of personnel hired under training contracts who performed non-training functions. --NYSDSS used federal training funds for a state summer camp during the 1989-1990 state fiscal year, in knowing violation of federal law. --SUC Buffalo, the Research Foundation of SUNY and CUNY knowingly submitted inflated claims for federal funds under their training contracts with NYSDSS, which OHRD knowingly passed on to the federal government. Denoncourt's allegations were investigated by the Department's Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., and the Office of Audit Services and Office of Investigations of the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Resources. Before Denoncourt filed his suit, HHS's Division of Cost Allocation and the Albany office of HHS's Office of Audit Services had questioned a significant portion of the unallowable costs attributable to the practices challenged by Denoncourt. Denoncourt's complaint then led the United States to uncover additional unallowable costs as well as evidence that the United States alleged showed "knowing" false claims by the defendants. As part of the settlement, Denoncourt will receive 15 percent of the United States' recovery, or $4.05 million. Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, a private citizen can file a case on behalf of the federal government and receive a portion of any settlement by the United States. ##### 94-725