JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – U.S. Attorney Todd Gee announced that the United States filed a civil complaint against April Tucker Beard and her barber school, April’s Mane Attraction, Inc., Academy.
The government is seeking treble damages and penalties from Beard and the school for allegedly defrauding the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 GI Bill education assistance program.
According to Gee, Beard and her school unlawfully received VA education assistance funds in the amount of $235,734 to which she was not entitled.
As part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, the VA provides tuition and fee payments directly to qualifying schools, including non-degree schools such as AMA/Academy, on behalf of eligible veterans. These benefits are part of the United States’ promise to support veterans after honorably serving our country.
To qualify as an institution eligible to receive VA education assistance funds, the school must submit a written application with supporting documents to the State’s Approving Agency. Beard and AMA/Academy received such approval in May 2017.
Thereafter, the school’s certifying official must submit separate enrollment certifications for each enrolled veteran certifying the course in which the veteran is being enrolled, the start and end dates of the enrollment period, the number of hours per week the veteran will attend class, and the cost of tuition and fees for the course.
The government alleged in its complaint that from July 2017 to November 2019, Beard and AMA/Academy made or caused to be made false statements to the VA regarding veteran students’ enrollment in her barber training program to obtain VA funding.
The United States alleges that Beard and her school charged inflated tuition and fees for VA students in the amount of $22,400 as compared to $50/week or $2,400 for non-VA students. According to the complaint, Beard did not maintain accurate attendance records, did not maintain complete and accurate payment ledgers, and did not provide course instruction and certificates of completion to VA students in accordance with program rules and as she certified in application and enrollment documents submitted to the VA.