DeKalb County has agreed to pay $750,000 to resolve alleged civil claims under federal law.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the county and its agency, WorkSource DeKalb, violated the False Claims Act by misusing grant funds for the Department of Labor’s On-the-Job Training (“OJT”) program.
The civil settlement resolves the United States’ claims that, between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 18, 2016, DeKalb County falsely certified compliance with Department of Labor regulations related to OJT. According to the allegations, former WorkSource DeKalb officials improperly administered an on-the-job training program, usingmonies to subsidize the salaries of employees from Fire and Rescue Department and several other agencies including GIS Department; Human Resources; Emergency 911; District Attorney’s Office; Board of Commissioners Clerk; Planning and Sustainability; Chamber of Commerce; Sanitation, Information Systems; Child Advocacy; and Voter Registration. The settlement also resolves claims that WorkSource DeKalb enrolled ineligible employees with VetConnexx, a private employer.
The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and DeKalb County officials.
“Rather than using the funds to provide training for its citizens who needed it the most, DeKalb County used those funds to subsidize its own payroll,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia said on May 21. The settlement relates to conduct occurring prior to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond’s administration. “Public servants who have the fiduciary responsibility of managing federal grant programs should never forget that taxpayers trust them to use grant funds properly. We will aggressively pursue all available remedies against individuals or entities that violate that trust.”
Prior to being informed of the federal investigation, Thurmond initiated a departmental review of WorkSource DeKalb. This resulted in the removal of the former manager and other senior staff. A new director, Theresa Austin-Gibbons, was appointed in April 2018.
DeKalb County was first notified of the federal investigation four months later in August 2018.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, WorkSource DeKalb provides workforce investment activities through state and local agencies to increase occupational skills.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated “the claims settled in the civil settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. As part of its settlement with the United States, DeKalb County has also entered into a Corrective Action Plan with the Department of Labor, in which the County will be subject to reporting and monitoring requirements related to its administration of the OJT Program.”