The owner of a Campbell vocational training school has been charged with a kickback scheme where he illegally diverted more than $650,000 in workers’ compensation insurance money without training injured students trying to get back into the workplace.
Officials estimate that out of about 100 cases, two students of Rashad Said’s Advanced Vocational Institute (AVi) had taken some classes – and they were online with no live interaction.
Said, 62, of San Jose, who stands charged of 11 felony counts of workman’s comp fraud and kickbacks, is a former board member of the San Jose Regional Workforce Development Board. The Board’s duties include approval of local vocational schools eligible to receive government funding for job training to assist displaced workers, including workers’ comp claimants. Said, who faces incarceration if convicted, was arraigned on October 23, 2019. His plea hearing is scheduled for November 11, 2019 in Department 38 in the Hall of Justice in San Jose.
Under state rules, some workers whose injury makes them unqualified to continue with their present job can get re-trained for another kind of job. They receive vouchers which can be as high as $10,00 which can be used for tuition, books, tools/equipment, supplies and vocational counseling.
In this case, Said is accused of giving kickbacks to counselors who referred workers to his school. The state allows disabled workers to use up to 10 percent of their voucher for vocational counseling services. Said is accused of giving unwitting workers – many of them who spoke little English and didn’t understand the arrangement – cash amounts instead of any training. In fact, when an investigator searched the AVi offices on a weekday, it was closed and the computers were covered in dust.
The investigation began in the summer of 2018 after a student complained that another Santa Clara vocational school had refused to refund the remainder of her voucher after doctors advised her computer class was aggravating her wrist injury. The state launched an inquiry that lead to that school’s owner being charged. The inquiry also revealed transgressions by other schools leading to the discovery of AVi’s criminal offenses.
Other SJDB fraud cases have been reported recently.
Between 2015 and 2017, Salvador Franco, Jr., 42, of Downey and Mirella Flores, 45, of Paramount participated in an alleged Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher Fraud scheme involving the Technical School, Inc., doing business as Technical College, Inc., and Graduates Do Succeed Institute, doing business as GDS Institute, operating in Southern California.
Those two defendants entered no contest pleas to attempting to defraud multiple insurers of approximately $120,000 by having students sign over their Supplement Job Displacement vouchers and collecting the money without providing required vocational training.