Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced Tuesday the former associate dean of the Office of External Partnerships at Caldwell University admitted to defrauding the Post-9/11 GI Bill, an education benefits program for veterans.
Fifty-six-year-old Lisa DiBisceglie of Lavallette, New Jersey conspired with 61-year-old Helen Sechrist of Sandy Level, Virginia and 50-year-old David Alvey of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to run a bait-and-switch scheme, receiving more than $24 million in tuition assistance under the GI Bill from 2009 through August 2013, according to court documents.
David Alvey is the founder and president of Ed4Mil LLC. DiBisceglie sought approval from Caldwell’s administration for Ed4Mil to create and administer non-credit online courses for U.S. veterans in Caldwell’s name. Alvey and DiBisceglie submitted an application with the Veterans Administration in an effort to make the courses eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. They stated in the application that the courses met Caldwell’s educational standards and were created, taught and administered by its faculty.
They also marketed the courses only to veterans eligible to receive the education benefits.
Caldwell was not involved in creating or teaching the courses. Instead, a subcontractor of Ed4Mil was responsible for creating and administering the courses. Thousands of veterans enrolled in the courses.
The defendants are facing 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Sentencing for DiBisceglie and Sechrist is scheduled for January 24, 2018.
“DiBisceglie and Sechrist were part of an elaborate bait-and-switch scheme that stole millions of dollars in Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition assistance,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Instead of receiving a quality education under the Caldwell brand, the veterans that were recruited by Ed4Mil were enrolled in unapproved online courses without their knowledge, all while members of the conspiracy profited from their hard-earned benefits. Prosecuting fraud against the government is always a top concern of our office, especially when the conduct shamelessly exploits our servicemen and women for financial gain.”
“The guilty pleas by DiBisceglie and Sechrist send a clear and unequivocal message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue fraud against the government. These crimes are especially egregious since they target our veterans and the educational system,” stated Timothy Gallagher, Special Agent in Charge of the Newark FBI Field Office.