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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Admissions Rep Calls School a RICO Scam

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CN) - An admissions rep at a trade school claims Pennco Tech fired him for refusing to participate in a racketeering scheme that ensured that every student who applied would be enrolled. He claims the scam was so blatant that a senior admissions rep "had to physically stand over the students to make sure they were entering the correct answers" on entrance exams.

Matthew Hamilton says he worked as an admissions representative for about 18 months at Pennco Institutes, also known as Pennco Tech. The profit-seeking school in Bristol, Pa., offers courses for pharmacy technicians, automotive, electricians, air conditioning-heating and plumbing.

Hamilton claims that throughout his employment, Pennco its agents ran a racketeering scheme and falsified records so as to qualify for federal and state money and loans.

The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges requires that a "school's recruitment efforts must attract students who are qualified and likely to complete and benefit from training provide by the school and not simply obtain enrollments," Hamilton says, quoting from the ACCSC itself.

He says Pennco disregarded this, and that his direct and indirect supervisors "falsified test scores by giving students answers and allowing them to re-take exams when not permitted."

The fraud conduct was so brazen Pennco admitted students with learning disabilities who scored so poorly on entrance exams that Hamilton's supervisor "had to physically stand over the students to make sure they were entering the correct answers," Hamilton says.

He claims that Pennco blatantly violated ACCSC requirements so the school could get tuition from students, money for books and fees, and above all, from state and federal loans.

He says Pennco Tech "defrauded students and loan institutions of millions of dollars," and fired him for refusing to participate in the scam: "Plaintiff was point-blank directed by [senior admissions rep John] Keenan to participate in the falsification process set forth above to ensure that every student became enrolled who applied, and plaintiff adamantly objected to being involved with the scheme to commit clear accreditation violations and fraud."

Keenan, Hamilton's direct supervisor, is not named as a defendant.

Hamilton claims Pennco violated a laundry list of state and federal laws, including RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, unlawful structuring of financial transactions, theft by deception, and deceptive trade.

He seeks punitive damages for wrongful firing. He is represented in Bucks County Court by Adam Lease with Karpf & Karpf, of Bensalem, Pa.

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