Anyone that visits the College of Beauty & Barber Culture’s website is sure to notice the greeting banner reading, “Where Dreams Become a Reality.” But considering the school’s owner, William Grobes IV, recently plead guilty to defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it appears the establishment posed more of a nightmare for the federal government.
According to The Virginia-Pilot, from October 2011 through September 2016, the Chesapeake-based barber school fraudulently obtained $4.5 million from the VA by manipulating the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VA offers tuition reimbursement, monthly housing allowances, and funds for school books and supplies for veterans participating in vocational/technical training at non-college degree institutions. However, the tuition payments are made directly to the schools instead of the veterans, which enabled Grobes to mishandle incoming federal funds.
Court documents obtained by The Virginia-Pilot detailing Grobes’ VA scam indicate:
- There was little evidence that veterans completed required instruction hours or were given graded tests.
- The majority of students were not present during planned course hours.
- Although they did not attend class, veterans were still asked to sign attendance sheets.
- Despite hundreds of enrolled veterans, only seven of them actually obtained a barber or cosmetology license.
- All veterans were given identical lectures and quizzes, regardless of their course topic or career program.
- Most veterans were never issued a final examination or a certificate of completion.
- More than 85% of students at the College of Beauty & Barber Culture received VA benefits; a clear violation of federal law.
- Student files were created for fictitious non-veteran students.
Grobes eventually plead guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, both felony crimes, in U.S. District Court on November 30. His sentencing hearing is now set for March 8.