SACRAMENTO – On August 28, 2017 it was announced that two San Francisco Bay Area companies and the two individuals who head them will pay approximately $2 million to resolve federal and state False Claims Act allegations that they knowingly overbilled the California’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS) by billing for services that were never provided. DDS serves Californians with developmental disabilities.
The companies and individuals involved are Alternative Learning Center, its president Alice Soard, Adult Educational Technologies Inc., and its executive director Wendell James.
DDS administers programs that enable individuals with developmental disabilities to live in the community instead of being institutionalized. DDS contracts with nonprofit regional centers around the state, who in turn contract with “vendors,” such as Alternative Learning Center and Adult Educational Technologies Inc., who commit to provide in-home support to these individuals, including personal care and homemaking.
According to the settlement agreement, Alternative Learning Center and Adult Educational Technologies Inc. were authorized to provide services in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It is alleged that the defendants submitted claims for payment for services that were never performed, fraudulently retained overpayments to which they knew they were not entitled and intentionally falsified documents to reflect services that were never actually performed in order to provide support for their false claims for payment.
The terms of the settlement require each defendant to make substantial up-front payments to the United States and California, along with additional payments over a period of time, plus interest. Alternative Learning Center will pay a total of $562,600, Adult Educational Technologies, Inc. will pay $322,500, Alice Soard will pay $159,400, and Wendell James will pay $107,500. Alice Soard has also agreed to sell her primary residence and remit the proceeds to the government.
“This type of fraud acts against vulnerable California citizens in need of assistance and is an assault on all of us who pay taxes to fund the program,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.
This case was investigated by the United States Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.