A Head Start program serving Wise and Dickenson counties in Tennessee will seek to overturn a verdict against it, or to obtain a new trial, in a whistle blower case filed against the organization in federal court in Tennessee in 2004. The case was filed by whistle blower Wayne Herndon against Appalachian Regional Community Head Start and accused Head Start of filing fraudulent claims involving federal funds in excess of $35,000. Mr. Herndon’s False Claims Act suit alleged that the local Executive Director had squandered Head Start funds on unbudgeted expenditures, including an extravagant employee “retreat” and unnecessary decoration of the director’s office. The federal jury reached a verdict against the organization and also awarded damages to Mr. Herndon to compensate him for his wrongful termination in retaliation for notifying federal Head Start authorities of the false claims being made by the local Tennessee branch. In accordance with the Qui Tam section of the False Claims Act, Mr. Herndon will receive a portion of the government’s recovery.
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