Owner of welding school accused of defrauding Department of Veterans Affairs

Posted at 4:29 PM, Nov 13, 2017

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – The owner of a welding training school is accused of running a scheme to deceive the Department of Veterans, according to court documents.

54-year-old Wilbert McNair Jr. is facing wire fraud and making a false tax return charges.

News 3 first told you about this case back in early September.

A Suffolk man, Kent Chillous, pleaded guilty of conspiring to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 55-year-old is accused of working with the owners of the Hampton Roads Skills Center, a welding training school in Newport News.

Records state Chillous is a veteran who utilized his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the school from June 2016-July 2017.  It’s alleged that he "did not receive instruction or attend courses and did receive a monthly housing stipend from the VA."

Chillous is accused of recruiting veterans to attend HRSC.  Federal prosecutors accuse him of assisting the potential students with determining their eligibility to receive tuition assistance and helping them fill out the paperwork.

The school then got money for each student the defendant recruited, according to court documents. Federal prosecutors allege that Chillous would get a fee for each student recruited.

Now McNair Jr. is accused of his alleged role in the scheme.

“Specifically, the defendant received approximately 8% of the tuition payments from the VA under the Post-911 GI Bill made on behalf of each student he recruited," they stated.

Records indicate the Hampton Roads Skills Center is located in Newport News, however, a sign on the door said they relocated to Portsmouth.

No one from the school was charged.

Legal Analyst Sonny Stallings said he fears there are more people trying to scheme the VA by getting fraudulent education benefits because of the all the non-traditional education institutions that have popped up in recent years.  He said fraud hurts the entire system.

"We see more and more of these scams where the VA is being scammed. The VA needs to do a better job of looking into these schools before they start sending checks," said Stallings. "We need to take care of our veterans, but when you get someone scamming the government who is a veteran, you really shouldn't have any sympathy for them."

News 3 went to an address listed for the suspect.  A man came to the door and peered out the window but did not answer.

Chillous is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Related links:

Suffolk man pleads guilty to GI Bill fraud conspiracy 

Suffolk man accused of conspiring to defraud the Department of Veteran Affairs