GUILTY: California Truck Driving School Owner Admits $4.2M Veterans CDL Fraud
Los Angeles, CA – On Monday, the owner of a California truck driving school pleaded guilty to defrauding the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) out of more than $4 million in an elaborate commercial driver’s license (CDL) training scam.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the owner and president of Chatsworth-based Alliance School of Trucking (AST), Emmit Marshall, 52, of Woodland Hills, pleaded guilty to five felony counts of wire fraud.
According to his plea agreement, Marshall admitted that from July 2011 until April 2015, he and co-defendant Robert Waggoner, 56, of Canyon Country, who was a director at AST, schemed to defraud the VA.
Marshall, who claims to have served in the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1989, and Waggoner recruited eligible veterans to take trucking classes paid under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
AST was certified to offer classes under the Post-9/11 GI Bill that included a 160-hour Tractor Trailer & Safety class and a 600-hour Select Driver Development Program.
As part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VA paid tuition and fees directly to the school at which the veteran was enrolled.
The VA also paid a housing allowance to the veteran enrolled full-time in an approved program, and, in some cases, the VA paid a books and supplies benefit directly to the veteran.
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.
Marshall admitted the vast majority of veterans enrolling at AST did not intend to attend any portion of those programs.
Further, Marshall says he, along with Waggoner, created and submitted fraudulent enrollment certifications.
They also created student files that contained other bogus documents, according to his plea agreement.
When the two men became aware of the investigation into their scheme, Marshall, Waggoner and others at AST removed fraudulent documents from student files, and Marshall later ordered that these files be destroyed, the plea agreement states.
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The fraudulent scheme lasted from the end of 2011 through April 2015.
The VA paid AST approximately $2.3 million in tuition and fee payments during that time for veterans who purportedly attended approved programs at AST, according to the plea agreement.
During that same period, the VA also paid approximately $1.9 million in education benefits directly to veterans who purportedly attended approved programs at AST, the plea agreement states.
DOJ investigators are continuing to finalize the exact loss figure, but the total loss to the VA is estimated to be approximately $4.2 million.
It remains unclear at this time how many, if any, of the veterans involved in the scheme were actually issued a California CDL.
United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson scheduled a November 18 sentencing hearing, where Marshall will face a statutory maximum sentence of 100 years in federal prison.
Waggoner is scheduled to go to trial in this case on February 25, 2020.
“Honest” Truck Driving School Boasts 94% Pass Rate
According to its website, AST says it is the premier truck driving school in the Los Angeles, CA area.
Additionally, the school says it is proud to offer numerous CDL training programs to help people “turn your life around in just a few short weeks.”
Alliance was born out of a need in the market place for an honest trucking school that actually delivered on their promise.
We heard it all, and decided to make a difference for folks who have to get their CDL Training and want to feel “taken care of not taken advantage of!”
We put everything in writing; you get what you pay for and nothing less.
Further, AST says it has a 94% pass rate and places drivers with some of the largest carriers in the industry such as Schneider National, Werner, and Swfit Transportation.
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