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Harrisburg man admits role in conspiracy that obtained more than $24M from Post-9/11 GI Bill

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NEWARK, N.J. — A Harrisburg man is the latest defendant to admit guilt in a conspiracy that fraudulently obtained more than $24 million from the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

David Alvey, 51, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He joins co-defendants Lisa DiBisceglie and Helen Sechrist, who previously pleaded guilty to a similar wire fraud conspiracy count.

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, the US Attorney’s Office of New Jersey release states. 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, DiBisceglie — then associate dean at Caldwell University — helped Alvey, the founder and president of Ed4Mil, get approval from Caldwell’s administration to create a series of non-credit online courses for veterans in the university’s name, according to the US Attorney’s Office release. The courses were approved after the duo prepared and submitted an application with the Veterans Administration stating that the courses were developed, taught and administered by Caldwell faculty and met the university’s educational standards.

That was all false.

Caldwell did not participate in any phase of course development and veterans, unknowingly, enrolled in the courses administered by a sub-contractor of Ed4Mil. Alvey’s company and the sub-contractor were not disclosed to the government — they were not eligible to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“Alvey and his codefendants stole money that was intended to provide educational opportunities to the armed services members who served following the attacks on 9/11,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “Their scam targeted unwitting veterans, enrolling them in unapproved online courses without their knowledge. Our office will always work together with our law enforcement partners to find and stop this kind of government fraud, especially when it seeks to victimize those who serve our country with such courage.”

The US Attorney’s Office release says thousands of veterans enrolled in the online courses, causing the United States to pay more than $24 million in tuition benefits.

“David Alvey knowingly and willfully abused his position for personal gain and did so at the expense of those who truly deserve better – our veterans who were looking to make their dreams of a higher education a reality,” Debbi Mayer, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Eastern Regional Office, said. “I’m proud of the work of OIG Special Agents and our law enforcement partners for holding Mr. Alvey accountable for his criminal actions. America’s veterans and students deserve nothing less.”

As part of Alvey’s plea agreement, he will serve a five-year prison term a forfeit proceeds of the crime, which includes over $700,000 in cash proceeds, artwork and stocks.

Official sentencing for Alvey is scheduled for May 15.