Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Computer Solutions of Spokane, Inc., doing business as New Horizons Computer Learning Center (New Horizons Spokane), and its General Manager, Spirit Dorris, agreed to pay over $120,000 to resolve their liability in connection with alleged fraud against the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) G.I. Bill program. New Horizons Spokane is a for-profit school located in Spokane Valley, Washington. It is one of over 60 franchises around the country doing business under the New Horizons name.
Under the G.I. Bill, veterans and service members of the United States Armed Forces and their families are eligible for tuition and fee assistance associated with higher education. Under the program, educational institutions such as New Horizons can request reimbursement from the VA for tuition and fee expenses incurred by qualifying veterans and service members and their eligible dependents, provided that the school meets certain eligibility requirements and complies with VA regulations designed to protect the G.I. Bill from overpayment and to ensure that its benefits go only to eligible institutions.
As part of the settlement agreement, New Horizons Spokane and Mr. Dorris admitted that they failed to comply with certain VA requirements, resulting in receiving payments from the VA to which they were not entitled. Specifically, New Horizons Spokane and Mr. Dorris admitted that New Horizons Spokane failed to comply with the “85/15 Rule,” which requires that no more than 85 percent of any course of study be filled with individuals funded by the G.I. Bill. The purpose of the 85/15 Rule is to ensure that the educational institution is offering legitimate courses of interest and value to the general public and not simply offering classes that solely take advantage of VA funding. As part of the settlement agreement, New Horizons Spokane and Mr. Dorris admitted that between 2015 and 2018, New Horizons sought and received reimbursement from the VA in violation of the 85/15 Rule.
Additionally, as part of the settlement agreement, New Horizons Spokane and Mr. Dorris admitted that between 2015 and 2018, New Horizons Spokane failed to comply with the “Last Payer Rule,” which requires that the amount of G.I. Bill reimbursement be reduced by the amount of any discounts, rebates, or other financial incentive provided to veterans. New Horizons Spokane and Mr. Dorris admitted that New Horizons failed to comply with the Last Payer Rule by failing to pass discounts and rebates on to the VA, resulting in overpayment to New Horizons Spokane.
New Horizons Spokane will pay $100,000 to resolve its liability, while General Manager Spirit Dorris will pay $20,950.
Also as part of the settlement agreement, New Horizons Spokane and Mr. Dorris admitted that New Horizons Spokane had received, and acted on, direction from its corporate parent and franchisor, New Horizons Computer Learning Center, Inc., which is headquartered in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, regarding the 85/15 Rule and the Last Payer Rule.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, “The G.I. Bill is an essential and historic government program that expands opportunity and education to our men and women in uniform who have served and sacrificed on behalf of our Country. The False Claims Act serves as the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for federal funds and property. This case is indicative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington’s continuing commitment to rooting out alleged fraud involving government programs. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that G.I. Bill funds go only to eligible institutions and to hold accountable those who misuse this program.”
“This settlement demonstrates the VA Office of Inspector General’s unwavering commitment to protecting programs intended to assist veterans that have served this nation and rightfully earned their benefits,” said Special Agent in Charge James Wahleithner, VA Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division.
The investigation was conducted by the VA Office of Inspector General. This case was prosecuted by Dan Fruchter, Vanessa R. Waldref, and Tyler Tornabene, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.