Former dean from Lavallette admits role in education aid scam
A former college dean from Ocean County and a co-defendant risk up to 20 years in prison each, after admitting that they promised college educations to thousands of veterans, gave them online correspondence courses instead, and let the goverment pay more than $24,000,000 for it all.
Lisa DiBisceglie, 56, of Lavallette, served as Associate Dean for the Office of External Partnerships at Caldwell University. Helen Sechrist, 61, worked at Pennsylvania-based Ed4Mil LLC. Each pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, according to the office of Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.
In addition to prison time, DiBisceglie and Sechrist risk fines up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss connected to the crime. Their sentencing date is January 24, 2018. Charges are panding against Ed4Mil founder and President David Alvey, 50, of Harrisburg.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill was enacted to offer higher-education tuition aid and related cost coverage to veterans who served in the armed forces after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Grants are issued directly to schools, for courses that meet specific criteria.
From 2009 through August 2013, DiBisceglie, Sechrist, and Ed4Mil founder-President David Alvey, 50, of Harrisburg, allegedly used Caldwell's identity in an aggressive marketing effort to recruit enrollees, and placing them in unapproved online Ed4Mil courses without their knowledge or consent, authorities said.
DiBisceglie facilitated Ed4Mil's approval by Caldwell administrators to create and administer non-credit online courses for veterans, under the Caldwell brand, investigators said.
She and Alvey allegedly stated in applications to the Veterans Administration that the courses were developed, administered and taught by Caldwell instructors and met the University's standards.
Investigators contend that the online correspondence courses were developed and administered by an Ed4Mil subcontractor, that neither entity met the criteria for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, that their roles were hidden from the government, and that neither the government nor the enrolled veterans knew the actual nature of the courses.
Assitant U.S. Attorneys David M. Eskew, David Malagold, Nicole Matropieri and Jafer Aftab conducted the government's case. DiBisceglie is represented by attorneys Gray Broughton of Richmond, Virginia, and John Morgenstern of Philadelphia. Sechrist is represented by North Caldwell attorney Richard Verde.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
More from WOBM: