Owner of Chesapeake barber college pleads guilty to $4.5M in GI bill fraud

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The owner of a Chesapeake barber college pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Court documents say 45-year-old William E. Grobes IV owns the College of Beauty and Barber Culture (CBBC), located in Chesapeake.

According to prosecutors, CBBC was apparently a barber and cosmetology school approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide education and training to military veterans, including veterans who received tuition assistance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Grobes represented to the VA that CBBC provided full-time schooling to hundreds of veteran students beginning in October 2011. In reality, prosecutors say the school was a sham. Most vets enrolled in CBBC courses received few, if any, hours of instruction. There were apparently no tests, exams or practical exercises given at the school. Instead, students were directed to sign in and out of the school each day so that Grobes could report to the VA that they were enrolled and attending. In exchange, CBBC received GI Bill tuition payments for each veteran from the VA.

Based on Grobes’ provision of false information to the VA, prosecutors say CBBC received over $4.5 million in GI Bill tuition payments between October 2011 and September 2016.

Grobes was charged on November 16. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. His sentencing is set for March 8, 2017.