NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A 55-year-old Suffolk man pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 GI Bill educational assistance program.
Court documents say Kent Chillous is a Navy veteran who attended the Hampton Roads Skills Center using GI Bill funds.
HRSC is purported to be a welding training school offering vocational skills to its students, many of whom were veterans whose tuition was funded by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Instead of providing education to students, HRSC didn’t provide regular instruction for any of their courses. The majority of students weren’t even physically present at HRSC during most of the hours their courses were allegedly held. Some students never once came into the HRSC building at any point during their enrollment.
According to court documents, Chillous was enrolled as a HRSC student between June 2016 and July 2017. During this time, he did not receive welding instruction and was rarely physically present at the school.
However, on the basis of enrollment, the VA paid him a regular housing stipend and paid HRSC for Chillous’ tuition.
A few months after his enrollment in the school, Chillous and the school’s owner made a deal for Chillous to recruit veterans to enroll in HRSC to boot the GI Bill revenue coming into the school. He was paid a recruitment fee of approximately 8% of the tuition HRSC would receive from the VA on behalf of each veteran he enrolled.
Over the next 10 months, Chillous successfully recruited 20 GI Bill students to enroll at HRSC.
Chillous pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced on January 11, 2018.