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PWCS Buying Scam Awards: How Illegal Is It?

By Greg L | 9 May 2014 | Crime, Prince William County | No Comments

In January The Sheriff pointed out how Prince William County was buying meaningless fraudulent awards from “The Government Finance Officers Association” just so it could issue a press release announcing how great its financial documents were.  Yesterday, Prince William County Schools announced that it also has been recognized by this same fraudulent entity in the same way Prince William County was recognized previously.  Today, let’s discuss the implications of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act in relation to the Prince William County Schools perpetrating this known fraud against us, as it doesn’t seem that sunlight has done a whole lot towards cleaning up this disastrous mess.

Here’s Prince William County Schools chest-thumping announcement, intended to make sure we peasants are appropriately in awe of the great wizards who slave away in the Palace at Independent Hill

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada has awarded the School Division a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. This is the twelfth year the School Division has received this distinction.

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. The attainment of this award represents a significant accomplishment for the staff and a valuable service to county residents.

Those receiving the Award of Financial Reporting Achievement include John Wallingford, director of Financial Services; Lisa Thorn, supervisor of Accounting Services; Carolyn Adams-Rossignol, chief accountant; and Maria Cavin, accountant.

As the Sheriff previously noted, the criteria for obtaining this award is that you pay the “Government Finance Officers Association” $690 and you get an award.  It is the fraudulent expenditure of taxpayer dollars in order to generate propaganda, and possibly a violation of Virginia Code § 8.01-216.3.  The beauty of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act is that citizens can bring civil cases under this law and if the claim is substantiated not only receive compensation of their attorneys fees, but damages as well - up to 30% of the award.  We don’t have to rely on government prosecuting itself, as we citizens can initiate that prosecution.

The key issue here is whether buying fake awards actually constitutes fraud as defined in the Virginia Code.  It is legally (albeit utterly not ethical) possible to argue that Prince William County paid a fee and received a product or service for it, and neither party was deceived during the transaction which was properly reported (I assume) in whatever accounting system the School System uses to track budgeted expenditures.  The fraud in such a case is not Prince William County Schools spending money on highly questionable purchases that deliver utterly no value to taxpayers, but in promoting their award-winning budgeting and accounting process that buys awards celebrating that budgeting and accounting process as something other than the inane government propaganda it actually is.

Government lying to the public is not a violation of the Code of Virginia as far as I can tell.

If however the courts have ruled that it is against the law for government officials to knowingly buy recognition from suspicious third parties with important sounding names when they know such recognition confers no value, then it would be quite possible for a citizen of Prince William County to initiate a civil action under FATA and earn a little money for their troubles. Thirty percent of the damages in this case would likely amount to about $2,400 unless those damages were multiplied for some reason, so it’s not a huge financial incentive to watchdog government in this case, but it all helps during this economy.

I don’t know how the courts have ruled on that question, since regular citizens have to pay to have access to decisions that explain the laws they are required to follow.  Yes, I know that makes little sense, and Bastiat would revolt at such a development, so it will fall to the one or more of the supremely privileged class of lawyers to figure this one out.

I just have to wonder what the discovery process would reveal in such a case.  I just bet it would be pretty darned interesting.

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