Owner of sham welding school sentenced in $1.4 Million GI Bill fraud

Department of Justice

A Department of Justice logo is shown on a podium during a news conference about Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, in Philadelphia. Federal prosecutors say drug maker will plead guilty to charges it marketed an epilepsy medicine for unapproved uses and pay more than $400 million in civil and criminal penalties. (AP Photo/Matt […]

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The owner of a sham welding school in Newport News is facing more than three years in prison for his role in a conspiracy that defrauded the Department of Veterans Affairs for $1.4 million.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that 54-year-old Dr. Wilbert J. McNair owned Hampton Roads Skills Center (HRSC), which was purported to be a welding training facility approved by the VA.

The school was advertised as a place to teach and train military veterans — including veterans who received tuition assistance under the post-9/11 GI Bill.

Prosecutors said the school contracted with two other federally-funded agencies to provide welding training for students who were getting tuition assistance.

However, most veterans who went to the school got few — if any — education. Most students were not physically present at the school when classes were purported to be happening.

Prosecutors said the school got over $1.4 million in VA tuition payments from March 2013 and June 2017. He was sentenced Tuesday to three years and four months in prison.

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