Maryland’s government must pay more than $639,000 to settle allegations that federal grant money from the AmeriCorps program was misspent during former Gov. Larry Hogan’s tenure.
The settlement was announced Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron.
The AmeriCorps program had awarded the state a grant of a little more than $1 million in 2016 to fund various volunteer programs in Maryland, including rewards for volunteers such as tickets to the Maryland State Fair and to Baltimore Ravens games.
But an investigation found “widespread violations” of the requirements for using the money. Fair tickets were given to people who were not eligible, including state employees, and state employee salaries were charged to AmeriCorps without proof those employees worked on the AmeriCorps grants.
The state was supposed to match the federal money dollar for dollar but instead used donated Orioles and Maryland State Fair tickets as part of the match, according to the settlement agreement.
The state is required to pay a penalty of $639,916 to the federal government.
The programs were administered by the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives and a division within it, the Governor’s Office of Service and Volunteerism. Both offices will now be part of a three-year compliance agreement with AmeriCorps as part of the settlement.
The activities all happened during the tenure of former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who completed his second term last week.
“The Hogan administration worked closely with the Office of the Attorney General and federal partners to equitably resolve issues related to accounting practices, and instituted permanent policy changes to ensure seamless integration with federal processes going forward,” a spokesman for the former governor said in a statement Tuesday.
The settlement agreement was reached in December but wasn’t announced publicly until Tuesday.
Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, has emphasized the importance of community service and has created a new cabinet-level Department of Service and Civic Innovation, which would reorganize existing programs and add new ones.
“The administration appreciates the work of law enforcement in concluding this matter,” Moore spokesman Carter Elliott IV said in a statement. “Providing new pathways for Marylanders to serve each other is a top priority, and will be a key component of our policy focus moving forward.”
This article has been updated to include statements on behalf of the former governor and the current governor.