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Columbus City Schools Bilked Out Of Tutoring Money

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Mandie Trimble
/
WOSU
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said Columbus City Schools was charged for services children did not get.

An Ohio audit special investigation found Columbus City Schools was charged close to $1 million for tutoring services children never received. The audit’s findings were released Monday after U.S. Attorneys unsealed an indictment.

State investigators found Columbus City Schools was billed for nearly 400 students who never attended tutoring sessions, as well as for children already withdrawn from the district. In total, 27 tutoring providers received $850,000 in bad claims.

While the district was duped, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost laid some blame on the school system for what he called “spotty” monitoring.  

“Even if you don’t do it for every single invoice, to not at least sample some of those invoices and check it back is a little bit puzzling," he said. 

The district received federal money to help tutor at-risk kids as part of No Child Left Behind.

Columbus City Schools declined to take questions, but in a statement said, since the audit, the district has better accounting practices in place.

Yost said it's unknown whether all of the money will be recovered. 

Tutoring company Horn of Africa’s owner Mussa Farrah is charged with aggravated identity theft and making false statements. 

The audit began in 2011 and wrapped up in 2013, but the findings were only released Monday after U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart unsealed the Farrah's indictment. Investigators say he is on the lam. 

A second tutor provider, Ashkir Ali, of WAISS Network Technologies, also was charged with aggravated identity theft and making false statements. He was sentenced to 13 months in prison.