Every year, billions of dollars are distributed by the federal government in the form of grants. These grants are accepted by individuals and entities alike, including students, the disabled, universities, local governments, and charitable organizations. While these funds are usually used as intended, instances of misuse and fraud do occur. Unfortunately, the resulting hyper vigilance regarding federal grant use leads many people to be unfairly accused of fraud every year.
Merely being accused of fraudulent conduct can have serious consequences, leading to job loss and damage to one’s personal reputation. For this reason, it is important for those who have been unfairly charged with federal grant fraud, whether those accusations involve claims of embezzlement, false claims, theft, or bribery, to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help them begin formulating a defense.
What are Federal Grants?
Every year, the federal government awards more than $500 billion in federal assistance agreements, which are more commonly referred to as grants. These grants are intended to help with the following projects:
- Support national infrastructure programs in agriculture, criminal justice, transportation, the environment, and more;
- Fund scientific studies and research; and
- Promote the social sciences, literature, art, and cultural enrichment.
Grant funds must be used for their intended purpose and to ensure that they are used as intended, the government often requires recipients to account for costs and expenditures. When these records indicate that federal grant dollars were utilized improperly, the recipient could face fraud charges.
What Qualifies as Grant Fraud?
Grant fraud is defined as a grant recipient’s attempt to deceive the government about how award money is spent. This includes, but is not limited to the following activities:
- Theft or bribery related to the receiving of federal grant funds;
- Making false statements or claims about or in order to receive a grant; and
- Mail or wire fraud.
All of these violations are subject to criminal prosecution, which could come with fines, restitution, civil penalties, and even jail time.
Examples of Grant Fraud
A wide range of behaviors fall under the purview of grant fraud, although the most common include:
- Using grant funds to pay for personal expenses, despite listing them as businesses costs;
- Charging for expenses that are not attributable to the grant;
- Charging for inflated hours, labor costs, or for labor that hasn’t actually been incurred, such as for the hiring of fictitious contractors or employees;
- Using false information when applying for a grant or making a contract proposal;
- Billing two or more grants for the same work;
- Falsifying test results or data;
- Misrepresenting a project’s status in order to continue receiving government aid;
- Substituting approved materials for unapproved products;
- Charging higher rates than those stated in the grant-related contract or bid; and
- Influencing government employees to award a contract or grant to a certain person or entity.
If you have been accused of committing grant fraud, please call our legal team today for advice.
Contact Our Office Today
Please call dedicated Miami white collar crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 to learn more about defending yourself against charges of grant fraud.