Tuesday, April 23, 2019

School Owner Indicted on Charges of Defrauding Department of Veterans Affairs Program Dedicated to Rehabilitating Disabled Military Veterans

            WASHINGTON – The owner of a physical security school has been indicted by a federal grand jury for defrauding a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program dedicated to rehabilitating military veterans with service-connecting disabilities and for making false statements to the VA.

            Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Kim Lampkins of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the announcement.

            Francis Engles, 63, of Bowie, Maryland, was charged on April 18, 2019, in a 20-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. The indictment was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

            The indictment alleges that Engles was the co-owner and operator of Engles Security Training School (Engles Security).  Engles Security was located in Maryland and specialized in security guard and related courses.  In August 2015, Engles Security became an approved vendor of the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) program, which provides disabled U.S. military veterans with education and employment-related services.  Thereafter, Engles submitted documents to the VA representing that he was providing 15 veterans with months-long courses for 40 hours per week and over 600 total hours.  In fact, Engles Security allegedly offered veterans far less than what Engles represented to the VA.  Engles allegedly ended some classes after less than a month, even though he represented to the VA that the veterans’ classes would last for several months.  In some instances, he allegedly offered only a few hours of class per day, while representing that the students would be in school for forty hours per week.  According to the indictment, Engles frequently cancelled classes without notice or makeup classes and instructors showed up late and ended class early.

            To advance and prolong his scheme, Engles allegedly created and sent to the VA “Certificates of Training” stating that veterans had completed courses that they in fact had not completed or, in some instances, had not taken at all.  Similarly, Engles allegedly submitted letters to the VA falsely stating that the veterans had been employed by Engles’ private security business.  Engles also allegedly instructed veterans to sign attendance sheets representing that they had attended class sessions, which they did not in fact attend.

            Engles allegedly charged the VA thousands of dollars more for veterans’ courses than he charged non-veterans who took the same or similar courses.  In total, the VA paid Engles Security over $300,000 for the purported education of 15 veterans.

            An indictment contains only allegations.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

            The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the VA Office of Inspector General are investigating the case.  Trial Attorney Simon J. Cataldo of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Misler of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.

Army Reservist in San Antonio Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Government Property

In San Antonio this morning, Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra sentenced 57-year-old Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Darryle Robert Bankhead to 33 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $117,779.45 restitution for stealing government equipment, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.

On December 11, 2018, Bankhead pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal government property.  By pleading guilty, Bankhead admitted that from March 2017 to May 2018, he stole expended brass shell casings from an Air Force Reserve Unit at Camp Bullis.  He claimed to the Air Force Reserve Unit that he would recycle the brass at another military facility, but in reality, he and his co-defendant resold the brass on 16 different occasions to a local recycler and pocketed the money.

For her role in the conspiracy, Lt. Dominique Nicole Edmonds, age 26 of San Antonio, was sentenced on February 4, 2019, to five years probation and ordered to pay jointly and severally with Bankhead the restitution ordered in this case.

This case was investigated by the FBI together with the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of the Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles L. Jenkins prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.