Justice Department Settles with the State of New Jersey’s Student Lending Authority for Alleged Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Justice Department Settles with the State of New Jersey’s Student Lending Authority for Alleged Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief ActUpon Military Service Verification, an announcement was made by The Department of Justice, which revealed that New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) is ready to pay the amount of $50,000 for going against the terms of service of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by giving illicit decrees for two of the military service members who left their signatures on student loans together.

The proposed court judgment was filed for the District of New Jersey in the United States District Court but is yet to get sanction by the Court. According to this decree, HESAA is debited for paying $15,000 to each of the two military servicemembers and along with payment to the US of $20,000 as a forfeit of giving false allegations against the two. Furthermore, HESAA is also directed to give their employees and counsel members SCRA training along with the direction of making new procedures and rules that are in accordance with SCRA. Now that the investigation has been initiated by the United States, HESAA is working on the instructions given to them.

General Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division mentioned that SCRA aims to give security to the people who work for the protection of others’ lives. Hence the Department of Justice will not step back from helping the two servicemembers against whom wrong allegations have been made and they will make sure everybody complies with the SCRA rules.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig for the District of New Jersey declared the above statement to be in the honor of the people working in the militarty, ensuring them that their will not be deprived of their rights even when at work. He also appreciated HESAA for how they coordinated with the inquiry team of SCRA.

On the reporting of Virginia, the Coast Guard legal assistance attorneys in Portsmouth, about the false allegation by the Coast Guard Petty Officer in 2019 for two military servicemembers who had left their signatures on the loans of students, The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey started the investigation. Since the alleged military servicemembers could not be able to speak for them by paying a visit to the court, the SCRA does its part of Military Status Verification for their servicemembers. According to the terms of SCRA, the lender must inform the military status of the borrower to the court if he files a case against the borrower and asks for a default judgment. However, if the court owns no right to enter the judgment against the borrower if he works in the military, but when the borrower hires an attorney for him. Thus in this case the court has to cease the case for at least 90 days.

According to the complaint filed, the two military servicemembers against whom false allegations were made, were deprived of their roles and inaccurate affidavits were filed for them in which their services in the military were not disclosed. However, the individual’s military status can be checked by the lenders via Defense Manpower Data Center’s free publicly available website (DMDC database) or simply by looking through their files in order to check for any applications, pay statements, military leaves, or military orders that are a solid proof for him being in military service. Despite having vivid proof of the two men being military servicemembers, the affidavits were filed wrongly.

The case was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. The department has charged more than $474 million as a penalty for more than 120,000 servicemembers via SCRA prosecution. To know more about the SCRA enforcement cases, visit www.servicemembers.gov.

Servicemembers who believe their rights and those of their family members have been violated against SCRA are directed to consult Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program Office by searching the nearest office from here http://legalassistance.law.af.mil.

Those who feel their civil rights have been violated are requested to complain along with U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey here http://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement/complaint or simply leave a complaint by calling on the number (855) 281-3339.

Attorney Victor Williamson is the Special Assistant representing the US. He works in the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights Unit, Civil Division, in consultation with the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section.

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