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PA man gets five years in prison for GI Bill scam that cost taxpayers $24 million

Money clenched in a fist. (liz west/Flickr)
June 08, 2018

A Pennsylvania man who plotted with a former college assistant dean and ended up stealing more than $24 million of taxpayer dollars from the Post-9/11 GI Bill was sentenced to five years in prison this week.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a federal education benefits program designed to help veterans who served in the armed forces following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The bill pays for veterans’ tuition, housing costs and other educational expenses as long as their courses meet certain criteria.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said that David Alvey, 51, previously pleaded guilty in February before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a local Patch site reported. Hayden also sentenced Alvey to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution in the amount of $24,024,465.65.

Alvey, who was founder and president of Ed4Mil, colluded with Lisa DiBisceglie and Helen Sechrist from 2009 through August 2013 to run the scam.

Both women also pleaded guilty to a similar wire fraud conspiracy count.

DiBisceglie, who was an associate dean at Caldwell University, assisted Alvey in getting approval from Caldwell’s administration to develop and administer a series of non-credit online courses for veterans in Caldwell’s name.

To ensure that the courses met the eligibility requirements for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, DiBisceglie and Alvey falsified the applications sent to the Veterans Administration, stating that the courses were developed, taught and administered by Caldwell faculty and met Caldwell’s rigid educational standards.

After the courses were approved, Alvey, Sechrist and others aggressively marketed the courses to veterans who were eligible to receive the benefits.

The veterans were then enrolled in online correspondence courses developed and administered by a sub-contractor of Ed4Mil.

Neither Ed4Mil nor its sub-contractor were disclosed to the government, and neither was eligible to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Thousands of veterans enrolled trusting they were taking Caldwell courses.

As a result, the U.S. paid in excess of $24 million in tuition benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

DiBisceglie and Secrist are scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

“Today’s sentence is an appropriate punishment for a man who spent years cheating our veterans by stealing millions in taxpayer funds reserved for their education. Instead of receiving the quality instruction they were promised, thousands of service men and women recruited by Ed4Mil were enrolled in unapproved online courses without their knowledge. No veteran should be treated this way,” Carpenito said.