Thursday, January 8, 2015

Schmidt sues New Jersey company for falsely billing Kansas public schools

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has filed suit against a New Jersey company that sent false invoices for textbooks that were never purchased or delivered to at least 317 Kansas public schools.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday, Schmidt asked the Shawnee County District Court to order Robert Armstrong, an individual doing business as Scholastic School Supply of Franklinville, N.J., to pay a $634,000 civil penalty for multiple violations of the Kansas False Claims Act.

This company is not affiliated with Scholastic Inc., the well known children’s book publisher.

An investigation by the attorney general’s consumer protection division stemmed from multiple complaints received from school districts across Kansas that received false invoices from Scholastic School Supply between September and December 2014.

None of the Kansas schools receiving invoices had actually ordered textbooks from the company.

At the time the invoices were being sent to Kansas, Schmidt’s office worked with the Kansas Department of Education to notify school districts statewide of the problem before they paid the invoices.

“Falsely billing Kansas public school districts is an attempt to defraud Kansas taxpayers and a serious violation of the law,” Schmidt said.  “We take seriously our responsibility to protect taxpayers from this sort of misconduct by vigorously enforcing the Kansas False Claims Act.”

In 2009, the Kansas Legislature enacted the Kansas False Claims Act, giving the attorney general authority to file suit against individuals or entities that submit false or fraudulent claims for payment to a state agency or local government.

As a member of the Kansas Senate at the time, Schmidt was one of the original proponents of creating a false claims act in Kansas.

To report public funds that could be recovered under the False Claims Act, please contact the attorney general's office at (800) 432-2310.