Wheeling Jesuit to Pay $2.3M to Settle Grant Fraud Claims

August 4, 2015

Wheeling Jesuit University will pay the federal government $2.3 million to settle claims that the West Virginia institution misspent research grant funds over nearly a decade. The settlement, announced by the U.S. attorney for West Virginia's northern district and by the university, resolves allegations that were raised in a 2012 audit by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which focused on a former federal official who became a vice president at Wheeling Jesuit.

The statements from the Justice Department and the university frame the situation rather differently. Wheeling Jesuit's announcement makes the whole thing sound like a misunderstanding: "The allegations leading to the settlement arose from highly complex and divergent provisions of the federal regulations governing the cost principles applicable to federal grants. In good faith and with complete and steadfast disclosure to the federal government, the University had used the same costing practices in its financial management of federal grants since 1998. The regulations at issue have since been replaced in their entirety by simplified rules."

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II described the case this way: "Wheeling Jesuit University applied to the federal government and received many millions of dollars in funding but failed to follow the rules that came with the resources. Grantees must use federal money for the purpose for which the grant was given, and for nothing else. The rules are clear, and they exist to ensure that tax dollars are spent appropriately. Educational institutions, like everyone else, must be held accountable when the rules are broken."

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