By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bowie man was indicted on 20 counts for defrauding the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) of $300,000 by a federal grand jury for allegedly using his business to deceive a program for disabled military veterans on April 22.
Francis Engles, 63, is alleged to have used his company, Engles Security Training School, which he co-owned and operated, to overcharge the V.A.’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program for services that either were shortened, or not performed altogether. After an extensive federal investigation, Engles was arrested on April 18 then indicted four days later.
A Bowie man was indicted on 20 counts for defrauding the United States Department of Veterans Affairs of $300,000, after turning in misleading information about a program for disabled veterans on April 22. (Courtesy Photo)
According to the Soldier of Fortune military blog, the formal announcement was made by representatives of the law enforcement agencies who collaborated on the investigation. 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 Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Kim Lampkins of the V.A. Office of Inspector General (OIG), Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the public statement after unsealing the indictment.
Engles Security became an approved vendor of the VR&E program in 2015. The VR&E program is designed to help disabled military veterans with education and employment-related services. The Temple Hill-based company specialized in security guard and related courses. The indictment claims Engles falsified documents regarding how he administered it’s course.
However, the investigation found evidence that the company provided veterans far less than what Engles presented to the Veterans Administration. He allegedly submitted documents to the V.A. stating that he was providing 15 veterans with months-long courses for 40 hours per week and over 600 total hours. However, in some instances, he allegedly offered only a few hours of class per day, while claiming that the students were in class for 40 hours per week.
According to the indictment, Engles frequently cancelled classes without notice or any provision to make them up. Instructors often were late and ended class early. Engles is also alleged to have ended some classes after less than a month although he represented to the V.A. that the veterans’ classes would last for several months.
The elaborate scheme also included Engles allegedly creating and sending to the V.A. “Certificates of Training” stating that veterans had completed courses that they had not completed or taken. Engles allegedly submitted letters to the V.A. falsely stating that the veterans had been employed by his private security business. Engles also allegedly instructed veterans to sign attendance sheets representing that they had attended class sessions, which they didn’t 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. The V.A. paid Engles Security over $300,000 for the education of 15 veterans.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the V.A. OIG are leading the 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 lead in prosecuting the case.
There hasn’t been an announcement about when the trial will begin or what jurisdiction will hear it.