MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The president of a Miramar company and one of his employees are accused of bilking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs out of thousands of dollars.
Marlon Hyde, 40, listed himself as president and CEO of the Hy-Tech Training Center Inc (HTTC) on State Road 7 in Miramar. Some of the course offered at the HTTC were to certify and license people to work as armed security at the VA.
On May 16th, HTTC’s business bank account records were subpoenaed by the Veteran’s Administration’s Office of Inspector General. HTTC employee Tarike Clarke, 34, was listed as “Signer” on the account.
The following week, investigators contacted Ron Scoggins, Supervisory Education Liason Representative at the VA’s regional office who said there was no reason that HTTC should be billing the VA higher costs for courses than what they would charge non-veterans. It was against federal law and Scoggins said HTTC was informed of this in August, 2013.
On May 29th, federal investigators conducted an undercover operation where an agent spoke with Clarke who said HTTC charged $1,495 for their Private Investigator Course and $4,650 for their NRA Pistol Instructor Course. When the agent brought up a Groupon ad which listed the PI course for $249, Clarke said they would honor that price.
A reviews of VA payments to HTTC revealed they were billed between $5,750 and $7,750 for the PI course and $7,750 for the NRA course for approximately 103 veterans.
The VA estimates it was over billed more than $200,000; the difference between the real cost of the courses which non-veterans paid and the amount paid by the VA for the same courses for veterans.
Hyde and Clarke were arrested and charged with fraud, grand theft and criminal attempt/solicit 1st degree felony.
Both stood before a judge Wednesday, each charged with overbilling the federal government.
“It says both of you, defendants, took part in billing the department of Veteran’s Affairs, the VA inflated amounts for courses provided to veterans and these were courses like private investigator course, and a course on h0w to be a gun instructor,” said Judge John Hurley Wednesday.
People who know the two, like Kenny Fussell, are stunned by the allegations. Hyde and Clarke are partners in business and life–they have a two-year-old at home.
Fussell has an office down the hall.
“He was a good guy. He ran his business. To see something like that, I’m kind of in disbelief, I mean he was a great guy here,” said Fussell.
The pair’s attorney, Martin Roth, argues they charged allowable rates.
“We’re going to sort out the facts, we think the charges are false, we’re looking forward to our day in court,” said Roth. “I presume that the VA looks at invoices that are submitted to them, they audit the invoices and they pay them when they are appropriate and these are paid invoices.”