The founders of a charity based in San Diego were convicted of fraud and theft on July 10th, and could face up to 20 years I prison. Kevin Lombard and Judith Paixao ran the Wounded Marine Careers Foundation from 2007 to 2009, which purported to train wounded veterans for jobs in the movie industry. A 10-week course was supposed to train them in new job skills and get them membership in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for a hefty price tag of $88,000. That’s about as much as accredited film schools charge for a three-year program. Dozens of marines had their courses paid for with a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
However, it turns out that the charity wasn’t delivering. They failed to provide some of the training and equipment, which left some trainees without the skills they went there to learn. Some of the trainees had to go so far as to bring their own equipment. Instead, it seems that they used that money to pay for personal items. The couple used these funds to pay for a trip to Bermuda, expensive meals, and a sailing trip around San Diego Bay.
In addition, Paixao also defrauded another charity, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, of $100,000 dollars. She claimed that the money was going to help a marine who had already dropped out of the program.
The issue came to light in 2009, when several veterans who were in the first graduating class filed complaints against them. Among other things, it turns out that the $88,000 came primarily from veteran’s benefits, and that the purported price for a course was only $10,000. Needless to say, a number of trainees in the program felt betrayed. Three veterans took the stand during the trial.