JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri education officials took steps Friday to cancel a contract with a nonprofit group that helps disabled people find jobs, citing falsified billing documents that bilked a government program out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Community Employment Inc. submitted more than $54,000 of false or errant bills to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's vocational rehabilitation program, said Jeanne Loyd, the assistant education commissioner for the Office of Adult Learning and Rehabilitation Services. The Springfield-based nonprofit has reimbursed the state nearly $21,000 so far, she said.
Lloyd said she sent a termination notice Friday to the organization, meaning its state contract will end in 30 days.
Officials at Community Employment did not return telephone messages left Friday by The Associated Press.
The organization's website list 10 offices around the state that help disabled clients identify their job skills and find employment. An online state database shows Community Employment has been paid nearly $11.4 million over the past decade, including more than $700,000 in the budget year that began July 1. It is paid on a fee-for-service basis, meaning it gets paid only after its clients find jobs.
Lloyd said Community Employment had falsified billing documents to make it appear clients got jobs when they really didn't, or to indicate that clients had worked more days than they actually did. The problems initially were discovered in July at the organization's St. Louis office, she said. When an August review of the Kansas City office also found problems, the department stopped referring new clients to the organization statewide, Lloyd said.
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