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Press Release

Pennsylvania Business Owner Gets Five Years In Prison For Defrauding Veterans’ GI Bill Of Over $24 Million

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for his role in a scheme that fraudulently obtained more than $24 million from the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a federal education benefits program designed to help veterans who served in the armed forces following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

David Alvey, 51, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Judge Hayden imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

“Today’s sentence is an appropriate punishment for a man who spent years cheating our veterans by stealing millions in tax payer funds reserved for their education,” said U.S. Attorney Carpenito. “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.”

“The VA’s Post 9/11 GI Bill is an invaluable and comprehensive education program meant to advance our nation’s veteran’s educational and professional lives as they transition to civilian life,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Smith, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office. “The successful prosecution of those who defraud this important program sends a clear message that those who seek to do VA harm will be pursued and prosecuted. VA OIG is committed to working closely with our fellow law enforcement and DOJ partners, and grateful for their efforts in pursuing justice in this matter”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides educational assistance to eligible veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces by paying for veterans’ tuition, housing costs, and other educational expenses as long as their courses meet certain criteria. Because these tuition benefits are paid by the United States directly to the school, all entities involved in developing and administering the courses must be fully disclosed to the United States in order to assess the courses for approval.

From 2009 through August 2013, Alvey – founder and president of Ed4Mil – along with Lisa DiBisceglie and Helen Sechrist, both of whom previously pleaded guilty to a similar wire fraud conspiracy count, and others, conspired to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in tuition assistance and other education-related benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

DiBisceglie, then an associate dean at Caldwell University, helped Alvey get approval from Caldwell’s administration to develop and administer a series of non-credit online courses for veterans in Caldwell’s name. In order for the courses to be eligible for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, DiBisceglie, Alvey, and others prepared and submitted an application with the Veterans Administration stating that the courses were developed, taught, and administered by Caldwell faculty and met Caldwell’s stringent educational standards. The courses were subsequently approved, and Alvey, Sechrist, and others aggressively marketed the courses to veterans who were eligible to receive the benefits.

However, Caldwell did not participate in developing or teaching the online courses. The veterans were instead 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 were eligible to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Alvey and others concealed the true nature of the courses from the government and the veterans who enrolled in the courses. Thousands of veterans enrolled in the online courses believing they were taking courses from Caldwell. The scheme caused the United States to pay more than $24 million in tuition benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“Today's action should serve as a warning to anyone who intentionally steals or misappropriates federal student aid for their own selfish purpose: you will be caught and held accountable for your criminal actions,” said Debbi Mayer, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General's Eastern Regional Office. “As the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Education, we will continue to aggressively pursue those who misappropriate student aid funds for their own purposes. America’s veterans and taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

“Today's sentencing of David Alvey is yet another example of the FBI's aggressive posture in pursuing those who defraud the government,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie of the Newark FBI Field Office. “This case, where the victims were U.S. military veterans, is no exception.”

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hayden sentenced Alvey to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution in the amount of $24,024,465.65.

DiBisceglie and Sechrist are scheduled to be sentenced June 5, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division, Northeast Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Smith; the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ehrie in Newark; and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General Eastern Regional Office, under the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mayer, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Eskew, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division, Senior Litigation Counsel David E. Malagold of the Criminal Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Mastropieri of the Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jafer Aftab of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit.

Defense Counsel: Stacy Biancamano Esq., Chatham, New Jersey

Updated June 4, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-198