Monmouth computer training center owner admits defrauding vets’ jobs program
The owner of an Eatontown computer training center risks up to 10 years in prison, for stealing $2,800,000 from a program to help veterans find work.
Elizabeth Honig, 52, of Morganville, pleaded guilty to theft of government funds, according to the office of Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick. Her sentencing is scheduled for September 25 of this year.
Honig, owner of Computer Insight Learning Center, admitted helping 182 mostly-ineligible veterans enroll in the Veterans' Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor.
The program's goal is to help aging, jobless veterans acquire training and find employment in occupations of high demand. Veterans aged 35 to 60 who qualify can receive up to 12 months of benefits.
VA officials approved a program offered by Honig's center to train veterans, including those getting VRAP tuition aid. Prosecutors allege that most of the enrollees that Honig enlisted were either ineligible, or took no actual training.
Authorities said that Honig admitted entering the online applications portal more than 100 times, using veterans' identities to apply for benefits and inserting false data about employment status. She then certified to the VA that the ex-military members in her Business Software Application Program were attending for up to a year, authorities said. The program was approved by VA as a 14-week course, costing about $4,000.
Honig certified that the veterans were full-time, in-class students. Investigators determined that 62 lived outside New Jersey. The Computer Insight Learning Center is not approved for online courses, authorities said.
Honig allegedly let veterans log fewer hours than required, drop out, or not attend at all, and failed to report the discrepancies to the VA, which continued payments. Investigators said that Honig's monthy $750 fee resulted in overpayments by veterans well beyond the tuition ceiling approved by VA.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah J. Gannett led the state's case. Honig is represented by attorney Evan Nappen of Eatontown.