August 18, 2022

Jackson man sentenced for wire fraud scheme designed to obtain GI Bill funds

Therese Apel

Gavel Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

A Jackson man was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay over $402,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for perpetrating a wire fraud scheme to steal federal funds, said U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Breen with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.

Anthony Kelley, 60, of Jackson, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

Kelley owns Trendsetters Barber College in Jackson. Trendsetters was certified by the VA and Mississippi’s State Approving Agency to offer courses which would be covered by GI Bill benefits for veterans enrolled in the school’s programs.

Beginning at least as early as October 2016 and continuing through March 2019, Kelley offered a Master Barber course that was not an accredited course of study approved by the state’s Board of Barber Examiners. Kelley fraudulently represented that this course was an approved course of study and as a result was allowed to collect GI Bill money from veterans enrolled in the program.

At least two veterans were enrolled in the Master Barber program using their GI Bill benefits and, as a result, the VA made interstate wire transfers of federal funds to Kelley based on his fraudulent representations.

An information was filed against Kelley on April 22, 2021. Kelley pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud on May 20 of that year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General investigated the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew W. Eichner.

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