The owner of a privately owned for-profit college pled guilty in a $2 million bribery scheme involving a corrupt VA Voc Rehab counselor who accepted cash in exchange a seven percent kickback payment for all funds paid to the company by Voc Rehab.

Albert S. Poawui is the 41-year-old owner of the college called Atius Technology Institute, the privately owned, non-accredited college implicated in the bribery scheme. Poawui’s company received $2.2 million in payments from Voc Rehab in exchange for over $155,000 in kickbacks to the Voc Rehab counselor. In exchange for the kickback, the counselor steered disabled veterans using Voc Rehab into the program. The payments were hand-delivered.

The Laurel, Maryland business owner engaged in the kickback and bribery scheme from August 2015 to December 2017. Hundreds of unsuspecting disabled veterans were likely impacted by the illicit arrangement.

As a part of the plea deal, Poawui provided details of the scheme. He and a second Atius employee made many false representation to the agency to increase profits from the fraudulent scheme. Poawui certified that veterans were attending Atius in up to 32 hours of classes per week even though the for profit college had a maximum of six weekly class hours.

RELATED: TDIU Myth About Voc Rehab

Once VA started an administrative audit of the Atius deal, the Voc Rehab counselor and an employee of Atius attempted to conceal the truth about the previous misrepresentations made to VA in furtherance of the scheme.

This report of Atius is believed to be one of many examples where Voc Rehab counselors are believed to be steering veterans into a program of study or institution that may be inconsistent with the best interests of the veteran for an ulterior motive.

RELATED: Can I Lose My 100% Rating If I Use Voc Rehab?

Full DOJ Press Release On Atius Technology Institute

The owner of Atius Technology Institute (“Atius”), a privately owned, non-accredited school specializing in information technology courses, pleaded guilty today to bribing a public official at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in exchange for the public official’s facilitation of over $2 million in payments that were supposed to be dedicated to providing vocational training for military veterans with service-connected disabilities.  Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia made the announcement.

Albert S. Poawui, 41, of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty to an Information alleging one count of bribing a public official.  The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia.

According to Poawui’s admissions made in connection with his plea, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program is a VA program that provides disabled U.S. military veterans with education and employment-related services.  VR&E program counselors advise veterans under their supervision which schools to attend and facilitate payments to those schools for veterans’ tuition and necessary supplies.

According to admissions made in connection with Poawui’s plea, in or about August 2015, Poawui and a VR&E program counselor agreed that Poawui would pay the counselor a seven percent cash kickback of all payments made by the VA to Atius.  In exchange, the counselor steered VR&E program veterans to Atius and approved Atius’s invoices for payment. 

Poawui admitted that the counselor and a second VR&E counselor approved payments to Atius without regard for the accuracy of necessary documentation in order to maximize the scheme’s profits.  Between August 2015 and December 2017, Poawui and the scheme’s other participants caused the VA to pay Atius approximately $2,217,259.44.  Poawui paid the first VR&E counselor over $155,000 as part of the illicit bribery scheme.  These bribery payments were hand-delivered by Poawui or an Atius employee to the VR&E counselor or the counselor’s assistant, a veteran who was enrolled in the VR&E program.

Poawui also admitted that, with the knowing assistance of a second Atius employee, he made numerous false representations to the VA to enhance the scheme’s profits.  For example, Poawui and the second employee certified to the VA that veterans attending Atius were enrolled in up to 32 hours of class per week, when in fact both knew that Atius offered a maximum of six weekly class hours.  After the VA initiated an administrative audit of Atius, Poawui, the VR&E counselor and the Atius employee took steps to conceal the truth about earlier misrepresentations they had made to the VA.

Poawui’s plea is the result of an ongoing investigation by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the VA Office of Inspector General.  Trial Attorney Simon J. Cataldo of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonali D. Patel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case. 

Source: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/school-owner-pleads-guilty-2-million-bribery-scheme-involving-va-program-disabled-military

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40 COMMENTS

  1. First, Who, and WHY, would anyone want to take “unaccredited courses”? Seems like that would defeat the purpose of going to college!

    Secondly, When is the “VA Councillor” going to be arrested, tried and convicted?

    Third, As I was reading the article;
    WHY do I have this “feeling”, Poawui might have been thinking Hillary Clinton would have been elected?

    • Your politics has nothing to do with this. Your interjecting your personal political comments does nothing but detract from the real issue: THE FAILED VA.

      • Combat Wounded Veteran,
        Sorry to disagree with you – “politics” has everything to do with this AND the “failing VA”!
        If it weren’t for the past failed administrations, (plural), the VA might have been saved.
        I only interjected my thoughts on this, because: The last administration was frought with MORE corruption than others! That’s a FACT!

    • Interesting how a change in administration can change whether corruption is actually acknowledged and dealt with appropriately, isn’t it Crazy Elf?

      I have no doubt if that evil woman had waddled into the White House that Shulkin might still be there.
      I have no doubt she would have been worse than Obama at preventing any agency IG from doing their job.
      I have no doubt her DOJ and FBI would be as thoroughly corrupt or worse than Obama, so these VA employees would be ignored as small potatoes.
      I have no doubt she would have hung a For Sale sign anywhere possible to enrich herself and her cronies.
      I have no doubt veterans would have been treated like those killed at Benghazi. Ignored and forgotten.

      I have no doubt this Voc Rehab corruption would have gotten much worse once the swamp rats realized it was going to be corruption as usual.

      I am not blind, and don’t choose to act like I am when its convenient.

      • 91Veteran,
        It’s definitely “interesting how a change in administrations” can change the outlook on HOW things are done!
        Even when other past administrations saw the corruption, waste, fraud and abuse nothing was done to correct it!
        That’s not saying President Trump can change it. Because the corruption goes really deep. On the other hand, at least we’re now seeing it get front page news by conservatives. Something we’ve not seen in a long time!
        I completely agree with you, and others on here, if that ugly hag had been elected, we definitely would have been fucked!

    • I’m with you crazy elf “Unaccredited courses” say what! This VA counselor should be fired immediately.

      • march hare,
        Not only FIRED, he or she (since the name was not released) needs to be arrested, tried and convicted for LOTS of criminal activities against America and veterans!

      • Thanks for the cover crazy elf. “Hundreds of unsuspecting disabled veterans were likely impacted”, I dislike anyone going to jail, but these guys deserve everything the judge can give’m, and they should have to personally apologize to each and every veteran individually, have to look at them in the eye and explain why they did what they did. To VA employees where just a number, were not, they need to see, feel and understand the harm they caused. Can’t seem to unscrew myself today crazy elf, guess I’ll head back out to pasture and check on those golden guernseys.

  2. How come they didn’t name the VA employee? BASTARD! This is another example of why the VA ought to be dismantled. Allow Veterans to get the step-up to the same quality of programs available to the general population of the US. Role the funding for the VA into the Soc Sec Department and let them administer all Veteran programs.
    The VA will NEVER be fixed. It’s impossible. Anyone who thinks there is light at the end of that tunnel is only fooling themselves. The decay, corruption, lack of management due to poor hiring is like a metastasised malignant cancer. At some point, you have to declare the patient (the VA) dead and move on. That day has come and gone, yet no one is willing to act on that fact.

  3. What was that about “white privilege” being prevalent at the VA, according to the Bay Pines AFGE President and VA employee?
    Poawui should be given glow-in-the-dark prisoner attire and airdropped into the finer rubble-ridden areas of Syria and see how he enjoys being an asshole. Set and forget.

    Instead, in the end, I bet the VA continues to use Poawui’s company’s, but all under brand spanking new foolish names, and WHERE ARE THE VA EMPLOYEE’s NAMES AS WELL IN REPORT??????????????

    WHY is this ASSHOLE Poawui even ALLOWED A PLEA DEAL? I plea to deport this asshole back to his great great grand daddy’s hut. Yesterday! (Maryland, what a cesspool)

    AFGE Pres. David ‘little’ Cox: And you want YOUR employee’s to feel MORE SAFE around WE Veterans? HA HA HA HA……..

    Get rid of the AFGE immediately, all else will follow.

  4. Albert S. Poawui, having a non-accredited IT College says it all. Albert S. Poawui is a PLAYER and the VA and many Veterans have been PLAYED.

    These are the types of deals the VA has been doing with “IT FIXES” as well…feeding the nepotism beast, while harming and screwing Veterans.

    FUCK YOU, VA and Albert S. Poawui.

  5. If there is a way to steal anything, somebody will get it. What I find incredible is the degree of effort some people will exert for it when it would take half of that to do it legit

    • Peter,
      I agree! IF Poawui had been legit, he would never have been caught!
      Again, I’ll guarantee you – he thought his “scheme to defraud the VA” was based on political advantages NOT realized until it was too late! Remember, his “fraud” began in 2015!

  6. @combat wounded veteran
    Privatizing the VA, or giving a healthcare voucher to veterans is not the answer. How many times do we see “not accepting Medicare patients”, or “not accepting Medicaid patients” at many doctors offices??? If they go to personal choice type programs you’ll see “not accepting VA patients” signs spring up at most doctors offices. You’ll end up having huge healthcare companies ‘specializing’ in VA healthcare and.. they will end up hiring the same staff presently employed at the VA and using the same building…… they’ll just take down the VA sign and put up ‘Aetna Healthcare’ or another for profit business. Those companies will have far less oversight than the VA.
    Fix the VA ——— don’t kill it

    • My local VA can draw blood and take xrays, but that’s it, it’s 30 minutes away. To see a neurologist, or an orthopedic doctor, urologist, any specialist, its 2 hrs away. The whole purpose of veterans choice was supposed to make veterans such as myself, have easier access to care. But health net, who does the billing, didn’t pay the bills, so care was stopped. No veteran should have to drive 2 hrs and wait 3 months to see a specialist.
      I have a hospital in my town, with specialist, where the VA has sent me before, when I had a problem, and the VA paid for it.
      This shit is not rocket science. By the way, Health net is taking over Tricare in Dec. They failed and now they are being given the contract for retired veterans. This is just one example of what is wrong.
      Hell, they can’t even get the White House hotline, which was set up to resolve veterans issues to work.
      The VA is killing its self, wasting billions on IT that hasn’t worked, not screening background checks, letting veterans die in waiting rooms, letting employees give contracts to their relation, building millions of dollars medical buildings without doctors, the list is so long I could type endlessly.
      They deliberately sabotaged veterans choice program to stop those dollars from leaving the system, then rewarded the very company that screwed myself and other veterans who were purposely placed into that program, and then denied care. Then reward that same company by letting them take over the care for retired and other vet’s, and you still want to deny the system is broken,,,,????

      • Bryce,
        Your 100% correct!
        Many on here, and other sites, have claimed, rightfully so, the “(NO-CHOICE PROGRAM) has been, IS and will always be a fucking “SLUSH FUND” for those sitting in Washington DC and across the country in the “SES” positions!

      • Crazy Elf,
        I asked the investigator who is supposed to be on my case, where did the money go?
        She said there is an audit ongoing to find out just where that money went, but she can’t even get Health net to answer why my bill was never paid and treatments stopped. She calls every 2 weeks to update me, that she knows nothing , yet.
        Like I said, if rewarding a company who failed vets is how the VA is going to do business, then the are just proving your statement as well.
        They are stealing this $ and f-ing veterans on purpose!

    • Woke up on the wrong side of reality this mourning #29?

      Or, do you walk around daily with a VSO’s fist deep up your ass and pulling your strings on what to do, say or think?

      • Clearly you are against Veterans having a choice of their own when it comes to health care.

        Fuck the broken VA and shut it down for all I care.

      • No, Seymour, I woke up happy and bushy tailed ….. perhaps that bushy tail feeling was a fist …. dunno….. but what I do know is that it is not a ‘choice’ when they tell you where to go!! The only way I would support ‘choice’ is IF the VA would pay for the health insurance of my choice. Don’t full yourself ‘choice’ by government-speak means subcontracting to your political cronies and donors. If the trumpeteers are successful at privatizing the VA, in 10 years you will be longing for the days when the VA operated healthcare.
        We need more sites like this one that Ben operates to shed even more light on a politically hacked system. Like many of you, I’m tired of bitching about the VBA, etc, tired of writing to legislators In my state(tx) virtually all of my representatives have an R behind their name and I get the same canned response …… “I (or we) am working on legislation that will……”. I’ll also say that motherfucking me because I don’t agree with the rosy bullshit offered by privatizing is not the answer. Write to the assholes promoting that bullshit.

    • #29, I can recall in the early 1990s politicians talking about fixing the VA…and many politicians saying the same thing since.

      I’m kind of curious about how many VA people might be fighting a veteran having a Choice because it would expose serious malpractice going on for years.

      Not only malpractice in medical care, but malpractice in providing benefits to disabled veterans because the VA ignores clear evidence of the disability.

  7. If Congress had to put up with the same care they are providing veterans, people would be losing their jobs left and right. But instead, we all come here daily and read stories Benjamin writes, telling us each and every time where the system is failing. If they cared at all, I wouldn’t have to wait till July to see a neurologist, and drive 2 hrs.
    I wish i could give them my pain for one day, let alone a months worth, then deny them care and make them wait months or even years as I have.
    I need more coffee.

  8. So I take it those Certified Ethical Hacker Certificates of Completion for taking classes at Atius Tech and given by Snow Flake University were Unethically given? They must feel it is ok to offer certificates of completions for an ethical field of study by unethical means.

    Snow Flake U or U a Snow Flake a.k.a. as Baltimore University has some crazy shit going on. They are partners with Atius Tech and provide them Atius’s students with Certificates of Completion from U a Snow Flake.

    I see Snow Flake U also has an art exhibit this week on free range children and a lecturer on “finding the next Weirder Idea. I do note that one of the weirder ideas coming out of Baltimore is lowering the voting age to 16 and it seems likely to pass before this fall. So we will likely have kids from Baltimore voting in the upcoming federal mid-term elections. Hows that for stupid is as stupid does.

    Given Baltimore is the city with the highest per capita murder rate in the nation, with nearly 56 murders per 100,000 people. I guess they feel they need to get them voting earlier with the shorter life expectancy in Baltimore.

    Hey, but Baltimore is not all bad. They did give us the excellent HBO series “The Wire” which was a docue drama based on the poverty, politics and policing of a city and day to day lives of teen age corner boys sling drugs in one of the most corrupt cities in the U.S..

    It is truly amazing how corrupt the state of Maryland is and it’s biggest city Baltimore. Must be the spillage of all the swamp water from D.C..

    • Seymore,
      I can see massive “voter fraud” and “election fraud” coming to Maryland real soon!
      There’s a lawsuit in the Texas Supreme Court now over “election fraud”!
      Don’t know how that’s going to play out, yet!

    • Maryland IS the swamp spillover/backwaters of D.C., just as New Jersey is the East Coast’s Compost Pile. I can only imagine the VAMC’s in Maryland having a solid 4 generations of nepotistic glue holding the furniture to foundations and today’s article is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

      • @Namnibor – you left out the 1st State of Delaware. Probably the longest running ole boy network in the Country. Uncle Dupee’s (Dupont) State. Never can get shit passed in the State legislature. Even though DE is one of the State’s with a lot of Corporation filings, the economy in Delaware sucks.

        Employment is stagnant. I know many that are still working part-time, or in need of a job. Many are going to Philly, Maryland, or going back to school and becoming a low-paid but necessary Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA). The economy isn’t what it’s being touted as. Many pockets around the Country are still high in unemployment numbers.

        Delawareans refer to Maryland as a slow hick State. No offense to my Southern Brothers and Sisters, I love me some down home straight up southern style food stuffs.

  9. democrats and liberal bureaucrats its called voters registration opportunities .to republicans, Neo cons ,alt conservatives its called voter fraud.

    either way putting new voters that cant speak English in American jobs to flush out capital imperialism from socialistic nationalist, or sending so called non English speaking American to jail so the imperialistic American traditions exist to let the republicans bathe (the baby boomers and x gen.) in new taxes incentives for older Americans that wish not to take business overseas is the new status quo in both parties agenda.well thats the new game . everyone in america wants a refund on there voting equality because the equality in America right now is going to shit hidden in a hand basket full of throat cutting governmental official looking to get promoted to i dont give a fuck status.

    we dont fit any fucking where in there. by nature of the government game we are tax deductible and more unfortunate to the brand new American they called immigrants that cant catch on to the new American sound of finical slavery and just become slaves until they reach to status of lazy fat American. and the rep./Dems they both make money no matter how corrupted it really is . general democracy of concern? well if u look at back in the civil war era there was a lot of voter fraud, ironic that was the general concern for a new edition to American democracies .
    which is, do liberties belong to the immigrant near a voting booth? or a pissed of Texas billionaire willing to break a tax deal while trying to flush over seas assets into new American cyber secrets the world cant afford.

    p.s voting system of American has always had flaws in it to the point, it confuses the actual voting process in its natural so called form.

    • Ted,
      Here’s something interesting since your talking about voting!
      The Dems want to make a law (nationwide) for 16 year olds to vote.
      Here’s the stupidity of it.
      They want to raise the age of purchasing a weapon to 21! Their reason: Anyone under the age of 21 is not mature (intelligent) enough!
      Think about this for a minute.
      They believe a 16 year old has the mental capability to vote for anyone – from President on down.
      Yet, when it comes to owning a weapon, they’re not mentally fit!
      How’s that for their “HYPOCRISY”!

  10. cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

    .

  11. Aaaahh, one of those days. Veterans taking sides. The fat waddler in pastel pant suits would have been worse. ya ya – everyone has had their turn at fucking the VA up. MSNBC vs FOX. Oooo, look, a shiny penny. Look over here. Blame your brother. C’mon guys.

    I don’t know long many – or any of you have been with the VA for healthcare. I’m a relative newbie – five years worth. I can readily point out some serious BS in the VA system – and won’t defend it. But. Not Hillary’s BUTT, just but. I can line out for you chapter and verse and spreadsheet included, how horribly I had been fist-fucked by Pig Pharma and Pig Med. The MoFos poisoned me, then denied me insurance, then tipped me upside down and shook out every last fucking dime.

    That fine private healthcare system has the shining Jewluminaziberg sign of the beast of a brilliantly bi-partisan-engineered healthcare financial formula designed to fuck over everyone.

    The VA is a rolled-eyes pain in the ass side show for Congress. Think for a minute. It’s only $200 Billion a year. Sure, some of our favorites get to stick their fingers into the pie for their buddies and then do a little flag waving. But it sure isn’t military procurement money. It ain’t oil money. And, the annual cost (not value eh?) of health care in the US is $3 Trillion. It’s about $10,000 per person. The VA? Twenty million of us, $200B, $10k per head. True – VA needs are more critical and costly, so we’re a little behind the curve. But that isn’t the point.

    As is frequently pointed out on this board – it’s the fat. Not just the fatties at AGMA. Not just the Fatty Hillary and Bill’s chubbies. Not the reptilian shape shifting Pelosi or Conaways. Not just the loonie Christian GOP Taliban or the LGBTQRSTVWTF.

    It’s all about takers. The slick motherfuckers who have engineered a system to take all they can get for themselves. Vets have an extra hard on because we were, and for the most part are, givers. Our focus on takers sometimes is narrowed too closely on the chubby at the clinic.

    The problem is much much bigger.

    Stay focused guys. Don’t fall into the reality teevee divisiveness of modern politics. We are not each others’ enemies.

    Now everyone, sing along. A little ditty by Ray Stevens. C’mon boys.

    “Everything is beautiful………

  12. Not only should the VocRehab counselor be named, each and every veteran he dealt with should be contacted and interviewed as to what “assistance” this POS approved. Then all the affected vets should be able to write a letter to the sentencing judge as to the effects this counselor had on their lives, emotionally and economically.

    This whole world is just getting crazier by the day.

  13. Even if malpractice was discovered, what guarantee does a Vet have to get through the mire of Tort Law and VA Medical Malpractice? Remove the Tort, and see what happens. A field day of exposure.

    This Vet wants choice, wants a decent Doctor where I don’t have to keep repeating, “Excuse me, what did you say?”

    Every time the VA screws over a Veteran, these ass-wipes don’t know the breaking point of people. The corruption needs to stop, and this Vet, expects Trump to call out all those that are hindering the VA from being investigated, audited, and reformed. Bring the Accountability back, and an easier means of legally holding those VA bastards responsible, and then there will be changes.

    Dirty VA employees need to be set as an example, need to have the means to accomplish this first. If not, some ole, same ole. And don’t expect too much.

    Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of reading and writing. I want to see some of these ass-wipes locked up, and our so-called compassionate Politicians firmly speaking out. May not ever happen when the cookie jar’s lid is properly in place.

  14. cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

    Oh hell, everyone needs a good laugh once in a while, here you go:

    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXbQxxj-qp8”

    Enjoy.

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