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According to DOJ, one VA Voc Rehab Counselor pled guilty of steering veterans into a bad retraining program in exchange for kickbacks that duped veterans out of $2 million in benefits.

James King, the VA official in question, was bribed by three individuals just convicted to prison in the large bribe scheme. King pled guilty to bribery, wire fraud, and falsification of documents. He will be sentenced this coming Friday.

Here is how the bribe scheme basically worked and the players who were just convicted.

Albert Poawui is the owner of Atius Technology Institute. Atius purported to specialize in information technology courses. Sombo Kanneh was an Atius employee involved in the fraud. Michelle Stevens is the owner of Eelon Training Academy purporting to specialize in digital media courses.

Collectively, these three were sentenced to a combined 120 months in prison and fines of over $3 million.

The VA Voc Rehab program is generally responsible for helping disabled veterans gain suitable employment usually through long-term training. The support includes paying for tuition, fees, and books required to attend a particular training program.

Generally, veterans have 48 months of benefits through the program. Once used, program participants will be unable to receive additional benefits beyond the cap unless certain exceptions apply.

A DOJ press release indicates, from 2015 to 2017, Poawui agreed to pay King a seven percent kickback for all payments made by VA to Atius. King steered disabled veterans into the Atius program regardless of the training plan or complaints about the education quality there.

King approached Stevens with a similar scheme for her school called Eelon. And, disabled veterans were duped out of their benefits to their profit as well.

VA has yet to publicly address how it will make right the veterans who are no doubt defrauded out of their benefits through the fraud and bribery scheme.

What do you think VA should do to help any veterans adversely impacted?

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20 Comments

  1. How can you sue VA voc rehab for not paying for school and tution. I graduated from the voc rehab program and have over 28K of student loans debt on my credit report for the past 7 years. They didn’t pay the school I was attending so it fell back on me the student. Thanks VA voc rehab. for bad credit.

    • That Doesn’t sound right 7 years? Did you go to a Congressman/Senator in your district at all and bring this issue to them? This should have been removed within a few months if it actually happened that way. Student loans are what i know are voluntarily your responsibility cause you applied for them and not the VA. If you are or will be 100% P& T you can get those loans Dismissed on your Credit file to 0.

      • Going to your Congressman is like going to the VA- you get a nowhere man, for real.
        Thousands of letters have gone in the trash by our Congressmen. You think after 50 years of living on the hill they care about Veterans? That’s the biggest fraud on the American people. Poor kids get to fight rich men wars. Have a nice day.

  2. 1st.
    How long of a sentence will he receive on Friday?
    2nd.
    Will he have to pay any restitution?

    3rd.
    Give the veterans, (victims), a “start over” with their GI Bill!

  3. Nothing new. Just different actors. Goes back to at least 1984 and most of the actors got away with it. Also rampant in the civilian retraining equivalent if you check.

  4. Ther should be an ad-hock committee overseeing these transactions, so as to limit this kind of actions. they should be monitored by the VA, which would minimize this from happening. Those affected should be reinstated of their benefits – we all get enough mal-treatment from the VA as it is…

  5. I am surprised some aspiring attorney firm isn´t hard at work pursuing a class action lawsuit for Federal employee wrongful act under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

    Reinstitute the veterans GI Bill benefits? . . . as President Trump´s former wife, Ivana, succinctly expressed it: ¨Don´t get mad, get everything!¨

  6. Quit, commit suicide. I went to the new Denver va yesterday. Spoke with some staff to ask what they thought about the new VA facility.

    They mentioned that a few things are not working properly, such as the doors. Code’s are way too loud.

    They are happy that they have separate buildings. They said the Drama was to much and separated they can work in peace ?.

    I asked when are they going to build the New PTSD units. I was told, that is not going to happen and those veterans will stay at the old facility. Where its been deemed spooky. Spooky place is the perfect place for veterans suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury or other mental disorders. Right !

    The new va can not handle any more veterans than they did at the old hospital.

    The reason for the new facility was to be for mental health and once again they lied.

    I do have to say that I was treated very well and the staff was polite and professional colonoscopy department. Can’t speak for the other services.

    What I expect from any provider or person is to remember what we did for the country and for them and to remember we are Real human beings and not their play toys to abuse and discard.

    I guess I still know how to dream.

  7. If the VA doesn’t restore full benefits. Sounds to me like a situation ripe for a class action. Any feel for how many vets affected?

  8. I swear there isn’t a day that goes by where Veterans are not getting screwed by someone. In the military we went after fraud at every level. Why isn’t the FBI or IG cleaning house at the VA and those companies screwing over the system and Vets. What the hell happen to this country. Good is now called evil and evil now good.

    • Your right Nick, there was no fraud on Active duty,I worked for Battalion S4,I ordered parts and supplies and was responsible for the Document Register,They gave a us a credit card, that was hardly used and kept under lock in key by the BN. S4 officer, someone from PAC issued themselves a chow card, while getting separate rations pay, they were caught by the C.I.D.

  9. VA Evicts Groups that Help Vets; Dog Park, Baseball Stadium, Prep School Athletic Fields, Upscale Store Parking Stay- this juts hit the wire. Only in LA? Nah this can go on anywhere the VA operates-they make it obvious who they hurt don’t they. Oh , I forgot …Hello MR CONGRESSMAN, are you thee. “Nope, I’m in my limo cruising the beltway and making a deal to sell out the Veterans to a Lobbyist”

  10. The scenario I went through unfolded mysteriously. First I was denied entry into Chpt 31 from Tx due to a low rating. Once I got a disability rating increase to thirty I was told I still didn’t qualify and was dropped w/ out notification. On appeal and three years into working on PT using Tx hazel wood the va counselor said masters tracks weren’t allowed . I was lied to and told to change to A BSRT program but the plan said I was approved for PT . The VA then wanted to drop me after only getting the prerequisites done, acting like The real school was garuanteed , I had to move out of state with no counselor assistance( actually delay sabotage) before I discovered my original counselor was the cause of all the problems to begin with. She was playing me and no telling how many others. When called out she acted like it was just a mistake. My life on hold, broken hopes and 4 years of effort dashed because of a lie, and manipulation to get into a program that was laid out as if It were my only option. These kinda people are snakes and deserve what they give not a raise and happy life ever after.

  11. To the question…certainly action should be taken to provide the Veterans an opportunity to retrain, or to gain commensurate training in their field.

    Mr. Krause’s blog does not mention if any veterans benefited from the training or if any did not, and whether or not any were able to get work. If the training was ineffective or substandard, then every vet should get training that meets the standard. That the Owner-Operators used the VA to get rich does not DIRECTLY condemn their training.

    What is more worrisome to me is how many Vets were **push** to these sites, without a clear idea of what they could or wanted to do, and what effect did it have on any who really didn’t want to do IT stuff? What kind of service did King give Veterans when he had a separate, additional fiduciary incentive to “advise” veterans to use these fields?

    And for the record, my old Congressperson, Lloyd Doggett, who was gerrymandered away (by Party R), was awesome. The “Yes” vote for Party R who replaced him (Lamar Smith) retired last Congress, and was, in fact, useless (and I have yet to hear from the new guy). I have a buddy in the Army MP who has a great Congressperson, too. So I think that to the extent one can contribute to the system, voting for the right person does help—but the Party Machine (R or D) is impervious, and it cares about staying or reclaiming power (floor votes). Just my thoughts.

  12. Major of the big wigs at the VA are Libs that don’t care about Vets. Especially in the Vocational Rehabilitation department.

  13. No I don’t think they should serve time, THEY SHOULD BE HANGED TO THE HIGHEST GALLOWS. Then when good and dead spit on the corps and maybe cut them up to peices.

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