Disabled Veterans Scammed in Government Scheme

  • 02/15/2019 12:00 AM
  • Source: AAN
  • by: AAN Staff
Disabled Veterans Scammed in Government Scheme
By the U.S. Army via Wikimedia Commons
A former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) official received an 11-year prison sentence today for demanding and receiving bribes from multiple for-profit schools in exchange for enrolling disabled combat veterans and facilitating $2 million in funds from the VA allocated for veterans' federal benefits. (Department of Justice)

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Kim Lampkins of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the announcement.

James King, 63, of Baltimore, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to an Information alleging one count of honest services and money/property wire fraud, one count of bribery of a public official, and one count of falsifying records to obstruct an investigation.  King was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia to serve 132 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay $155,000 in restitution to the VA.  Earlier this week, Judge Bates sentenced three school owners and employees who admitted to bribing King.  Albert Poawui, the owner of Atius Technology Institute, was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution.  Sombo Kanneh, Poawui’s employee, was sentenced to serve 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $113,000 in restitution.  Michelle Stevens, the owner of Eelon Training Academy, was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $83,000 in restitution.

“James King and his associates exploited an important VA program that provides valuable services to our disabled military veterans,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “This prosecution once again demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable those who seek to defraud government programs for their own personal enrichment.”

“James King blatantly betrayed his responsibility with the VA to provide job and educational counseling to disabled military veterans who turned to him for help,” said U.S. Attorney Liu.  “Instead of helping our veterans, he lined his own pockets by taking bribes to send them to three sham schools that brought them only pain and frustration. Today’s sentencing holds him accountable for this breach of trust and this waste of taxpayer money.”

King's plea is the culmination of an exhaustive investigation by the FBI and VA Office of Inspector General.
 Source: AAN
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