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Indiana joins suit against for-profit college company

August 9, 2011

Indiana has filed a joint complaint in a whistleblower suit against Education Management Corp., which alleges the for-profit college company and two of its subsidiaries received more than $12 million in state financial aid after making false claims and misrepresentations to the state.

This is the first time Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has used a whistleblower lawsuit to seek civil penalties due to false claims paid out of state financial aid, rather than out of Medicaid.

The lawsuit was originally filed by private plaintiffs in U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania. It alleges that EDMC and subsidiaries violated a federal law that bans incentive compensation for college admissions employees based on the number of students they enroll. The companies are accused of violating Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 by improperly compensating college recruiters with bonuses such as expensive vacations based on the number of students they recruited to enroll. The defendants of the Indiana portion of the suit are The Art Institute of Indianapolis and Brown Mackie College, which operates in five Indiana cities.

The Indiana portion of the complaint alleges a total of 16,814 student financial aid awards were claimed by the six EDMC schools operating here that falsely represented their compliance and eligibility to the state. The lawsuit says that EDMC defrauded the State of Indiana by claiming more than $12 million in student financial aid for which it was not eligible since 2003.

Indiana seeks civil penalties of at least $5,000 for each false claim submitted, treble damages, attorney fees, litigation costs and interest. A copy of the suit is available on the attorney general’s website. The state is demanding a jury trial.

The states of California, Florida, and Illinois, as well as the United States, also intervened in the suit.

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