The owner of a Chatsworth trucking school pleaded guilty Monday to using his business to scam the federal Veterans Affairs agency out of more than $4 million, federal prosecutors said.
Emmit Marshall, 52, of Woodland Hills, admitted to five felony counts of wire fraud alleging he recruited veterans, then falsely certified they were taking classes at his Alliance School of Trucking (AST) to collect GI Bill funds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
Marshall allegedly ran the scheme from July 2011 until April 2015 with AST’s director, 56-year-old Robert Waggoner of Canyon Country, who is scheduled to go to trial in the case next February.
Marshall steered veterans into classes covered under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, meaning the VA would pay the tuition and fees directly to the school, according to his plea agreement.
The AST president also told prosecutors that Waggoner and another person informed veterans they could collect stipends for housing and supplies without attending class.
Marshall and Waggoner created and submitted bogus enrollment certifications and student files with fake documents so that they could collect the money, officials said.
When the pair became aware investigators were onto them, they allegedly purged the fraudulent documents from student files and had them destroyed.
The VA says it gave AST about $2.3 million for tuition and fees for falsely enrolled veterans, and roughly $1.9 million more was given directly to veterans for education benefits despite them not attending class.
Investigators are still determining exactly how much the VA was scammed out of, but the total loss is estimated at around $4.2 million.
Marshall will face a maximum possible penalty of 100 years in federal prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 18.