HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - A Suffolk man is accused of conspiring to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs through an alleged scheme involving a welding training school.
Kent Chillous is facing one count of wire fraud conspiracy. The 55-year-old is accused of working with the owners of the Hampton Roads Skills Center, a welding training school in Newport News.
Court documents don’t the list the names of the owners, and no one has been arrested.
Records state Chillous is a veteran who utilized his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the school from June 2016-July 2017. It’s alleged that he "did not receive instruction or attend course and did receive a monthly housing stipend from the VA."
Chillous is accused of recruiting veterans to attend HRSC. Federal prosecutors accuse him of assisting the potential students with determining their eligibility to receive tuition assistance and helping them fill out the paperwork.
The school then got money for each student the defendant recruited, according to court documents. Federal prosecutors allege that Chillous would get a fee for each student recruited.
“Specifically, the defendant received approximately 8% of the tuition payments from the VA under the Post-911 GI Bill made on behalf of each student he recruited," they stated.
Records indicate the Hampton Roads Skills Center is located in Newport News, however a sign on the door said they relocated to Portsmouth.
No one from the school was charged.
Legal Analyst Sonny Stallings said he fears there are more people trying to scheme the VA by getting fraudulent education benefits because of the all the non-traditional education institutions that have popped up in recent years. He said fraud hurts the entire system.
News 3 went to an address listed for the suspect. A man came to the door and peered out the window but did not answer.
The Norfolk Federal Courthouse told News 3 there is a plea agreement hearing September 26.
Chillous' lawyer, Crystina O'Brien, told News 3 she had no comment about the case at this time.