The owner of a for-profit business school has been sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison for stealing $ 72 million from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and misleading veteran students, the US prosecutor said by Acting for the North Texas Prerak Shah District.

In April, a federal jury convicted Jonathan Dean Davis, the 43-year-old owner of the Retail Ready Career Center, of seven counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering. He was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr, who also ordered him to pay $ 65.2 million in restitution. In addition to paying restitution, Davis will have to give up $ 72.5 million to the federal government.

The accused was taken into custody immediately after his conviction and was remanded in custody after the sentencing hearing.

“A jury found that Mr. Davis lied to several government agencies, lining their pockets with the benefits of the veterans’ GI Bill even as they struggled to cope,” the Acting US Attorney said. Prerak Shah. “Sir. Davis’ crimes were a slap in the face of the sacrifices made by our military, and we are proud to put him behind bars for such an important time.

According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Davis marketed Retail Ready’s six-week CVC training course to veterans whose tuition would be covered by the Veteran’s Educational Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the GI Bill. post-September 11. The accused, who was essentially broke at the time of the crime, realized that he could charge $ 18,000 to $ 21,000 per student for the six-week course, if only he could get VA approval. to accept GI Bill payments for tuition – which required prior approvals from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC).

These agencies required applicants to certify that they were not personally the subject of any criminal or civil action and to prove that their schools were established educational institutions in a stable financial position. Knowing that he could not meet these requirements, Mr. Davis repeatedly lied and withheld information from these agencies.

“Several decisions await us which will ultimately make the difference if I succeed or if I fail. No more heart-wrenching conversations, no more humiliating experiences, no more lies, ”Davis wrote in an electronic journal he kept on his computer, which was recovered by federal agents during a search of Retail Ready. The diary became a key piece of evidence at trial.

Mr Davis assured the TWC that he was not the subject of any civil action, when in fact he faced numerous civil judgments for unpaid debts. He also told the TWC that he was not facing any criminal charges, when in fact he had one felony charge pending for theft of services.

Mr Davis told TVC that Retail Ready had been operating as a school for two years, when in fact the company had only been in existence for a few months and had never trained any students. He claimed that Retail Ready was fully prepared to train veterans when in fact the company lacked basic building and supplies. He even lied to a freelance accountant about the school’s financial situation, then submitted false financial statements to both the TWC and TVC.

Ultimately, based on Mr. Davis’ lies to the TWC and TVC, the VA agreed to Retail Ready’s request, allowing Mr. Davis to bill the VA for veterans tuition under the GI Bill. .

In 2014, he began recruiting veteran students, promising to prepare them for lucrative careers in the heating and air conditioning industry. Upon entering the workforce, however, many of these veterans found that Retail Ready had not taught them many of the basic skills needed for entry-level tech jobs.

Several veterans testified at trial that they relied on VA’s fraudulent approval of Retail Ready and were very disappointed with their career prospects and salary after Retail Ready. They were also shocked to learn how quickly Retail Ready’s six-week course had exhausted their GI Bill benefits, testifying that they felt “used”, “taken advantage of”, “cheated” and “bamboo”.

Even as its veteran graduates struggled to make ends meet, Retail Ready raised more than $ 72 million in GI Bill benefits from the VA. Using the proceeds of his fraud, Mr. Davis bought a $ 2.2 million home in Dallas, a $ 428,000 Lamborghini, a $ 280,000 Ferrari and a $ 260,000 Bentley, among others.

The Virginia Inspector General’s Office conducted the investigation with assistance from the Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Worth Field Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant US Prosecutors Douglas Brasher and Fabio Leonardi are pursuing the case, and Assistant US Prosecutor Dimitri Rocha is handling the confiscation. U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr presided over the trial.

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