Trucking school owner pleads guilty to $4.2 million VA fraud scheme

He's facing up to 100 years in federal prison.

A California truck driving school owner has pled guilty to federal charges related to a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Fifty-two year old Emmit Marshall, the owner and president of Chatsworth, California-based Alliance School of Trucking (AST), pled guilty to five felony counts of wire fraud, according to a July 29 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Authorities say that Marshall participated in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs out of $4.2 million by falsely claiming that veterans participated in truck driver training classes at AST.

According to the Department of Justice, Marshall and his co-defendant Robert Waggoner, 56, recruited veterans to enroll in AST as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Per the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VA paid AST directly for tuition and other expenses for eligible veterans enrolled in the school while paying the veteran directly for housing and some some other expenses.

From the news release:

Marshall admitted that Waggoner and another individual recruited eligible veterans to enroll at AST by telling the veterans they could collect housing and other fees from the VA without attending the programs. Knowing that the vast majority of veterans enrolling at AST did not intend to attend any portion of those programs, Marshall and Waggoner created and submitted fraudulent enrollment certifications, according to Marshall’s plea agreement. They also created student files that contained bogus documents.

Authorities also say that once they became aware of the investigation, Waggoner and Marshall removed and destroyed fraudulent documents from their student files.

While the scheme played out between the end of 2011 through April 2015, the VA paid out  $2.3 million in tuition and fee payments to AST for students who didn’t attend classes, authorities say. During that same period, the VA also reportedly paid out $1.9 million to veterans who didn’t attend the trucking school.

Investigating agencies include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Marshall will face sentencing November 18, 2019. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of 100 years in federal prison.

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