NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The owner of a Chesapeake barber college was sentenced Wednesday to over five years in prison for charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
45-year-old William E. Grobes IV pleaded guilty to the charges on Nov. 30. Along with the five-year sentence, he must pay over $4.5 million in restitution and will have three years of supervised release.
Court documents say Grobes 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 has agreed to forfeit his home, six bank accounts totaling over $1 million, and nearly $200,000 in cash seized from a safe in the floor of his home. His wife and co-conspirator, Katherine Grobes, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.