A South Mississippi barber owes the federal government nearly $1 million. Here’s why

A South Mississippi salon proprietor owes the federal government greater than $900,000 after it discovered she stole 1000’s of {dollars} in profit funds by falsely claiming to show courses to veterans, a decide dominated final month.

April Tucker Beard, who owns April’s Mane Attraction and the barber academy that shares its title, should pay the United States $916,392 for “fraudulent veterans assistance claims” she made at her Moss Point salon and barber faculty, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi announced this week.

The U.S. filed a civil complaint towards Beard in October. It didn’t cost her with felony wrongdoing however mentioned she “knowingly defrauded” a federal help program for veterans as a result of she falsely claimed to show 1,500 hours of courses to veterans.

The federal government says the veterans in her program by no means completed her courses.

But Beard’s enterprise nonetheless raked in $235,734 in veterans advantages.

Todd Gee, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi mentioned the veterans program “is an important part of our promise to aid our military veterans and their families for honorably serving our country.”

“This type of fraud drains funds from vital veterans’ programs,” he mentioned, “and this office remains committed to holding offenders who abuse and exploit these programs accountable.”

The government says Beard took benefit of the Post-9/11 GI Bill schooling help program — which supplies veterans tuition advantages, charges, month-to-month housing allowances and stipends for books and provides.

The program exists to assist veterans afford faculty and job coaching after they serve the nation.

Beard exploited that program by sustaining false attendance data and fee ledgers to cover the incontrovertible fact that her faculty didn’t observe the program’s necessities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office mentioned. The government additionally mentioned she falsely claimed to cost the identical tuition to VA and non-VA college students however actually charged $22,400 in tuition to VA college students and $2,400 to non-VA college students.

That helped her acquire extra veterans help advantages, the federal government says.

Last month, a federal decide in Gulfport instructed Beard and her companies she owes the government $916,392. That quantity is greater than triple what she price the government. But federal legislation says the U.S. is entitled to triple its loss, plus penalties.

Beard earned approval to hitch the veterans help program in May 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office mentioned. She made the false claims from July 2017 to November 2019.

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