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Jackson Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Scheme Designed to Fraudulently Obtain GI Bill Funds from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Jackson, Miss. – A Jackson man pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves to two counts of wire fraud in a scheme to steal federal funds, announced Acting 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, 59, of Jackson, owns Trendsetters Barber College in Jackson, Mississippi.  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.

“The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) is committed to protecting the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other critical programs that provide benefits to our nation’s veterans,” said Department of Veterans Affairs OIG Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Breen of the South Central Field Office.  “The defendant’s guilty plea is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the U.S. Attorney’s Office staff and the VA OIG case agent that led to the successful outcome of this important investigation.”

An Information was filed against Kelley on April 22, 2021 charging him with two counts of wire fraud.

Kelley will be sentenced on August 24, 2021 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count.

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