Ninety-Six man convicted of trying to defraud Veterans Affairs
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) —
A 48-year-old man from the town of Ninety-Six was sentenced in federal court this week for conspiring to defraud Veterans Affairs.
Charles B. Harris was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered him to pay $45,000 in restitution.
Prosecutors showed during the trial that from 2011 to 2014, Harris owned and operated the Greenwood Barber College, a school that was approved by the VA to teach veterans how to be barbers. Harris was supposed to certify student attendance and progress.
In December 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs received a complaint that Harris was conspiring with various veterans in stealing government funds, prosecutors said.
That's when agents opened an investigation and talked to several students who said they made an agreement to pay Harris $400 per month and they would not have to attend classes.
Prosecutors showed Harris faked documents and progress so the students could keep getting their VA education benefits.
A few months later, agents talked to Harris at the school where he admitted to helping veterans sign up for the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program and other VA programs offering financial aid for career training so that he could enroll them in the barber college.
Harris told government officials that he knew what he did was wrong and was he was sorry.