Four years was the sentence handed down against the owner of a California trucking school following his guilty plea for defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In an announcement of the sentencing Monday, the office of the U.S. Attorney for Central California described the actions of Emmit Marshall as a “sophisticated scheme.” It went on for roughly four years.
Marshall pleaded guilty last year to five counts of wire fraud.
Sentencing was delayed for several reasons, including Marshall’s cooperation in the case against AST Vice President Robert Waggoner. Waggoner also ultimately pleaded guilty and faces sentencing next March.
In addition to the 48 months he was sentenced to, Marshall was ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution.
Marshall is the owner of the Alliance School of Trucking in Chatsworth, California, about 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, in a statement released last year at the time of Marshall’s guilty plea, Marshall and Waggoner “recruited eligible veterans to take trucking classes paid under the Post-0/11 GI Bill.” AST was certified to teach several classes including a 160-hour safety class and a 600-hour “Select Driver Development Program.”
The VA would pay their remittance directly to the school, as well as paying some level of housing allowances and supplies required by the school. “Marshall admitted that Waggoner and another individual recruited eligible veterans to enroll at AST by telling the veterans they could collect housing and other fees from the VA without attending the programs,” the US. attorney’s office said last year in describing the scheme.
The two men created fake enrollment certifications for these veterans who had been recruited with no intention of actually attending any classes. They also created files for the students with “bogus documents.” The original indictment, filed back in 2015, says Marshall and Waggoner instructed the veterans, if asked, to tell auditors that they did attend class when in fact they had not.
The amounts in question ran into the millions. Between the end of 2011 and April 2015, the VA paid approximately $4.2 million in various fees to AST.
The U.S. attorney quoted the prosecutors’ sentencing memorandum about what became of the funds. “[Marshall] profited most from this conduct, pocketing nearly $1 million himself, which he used for jewelry, a cruise, a trip to Hawaii, property taxes on his Woodland Hills residence, purchase of a Ford F-150 and purchase of semi-tractor trailers for a new business,” they wrote.