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For-profit trade school owner charged with defrauding VA, student veterans

Last updated on November 23, 2020

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The owner of a for-profit trade school has been charged with defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and student veterans, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox. 

Jonathan Dean Davis, the 43 year-old owner of Retail Ready Career Center, was indicted Wednesday on seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and four counts of money laundering.  Mr. Davis voluntarily surrendered and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford Monday.

According to the indictment, Mr. Davis owned and operated Retail Ready Career Center, Inc., a for-profit corporation that marketed its six-week HVAC training course to veterans, whose tuition and fees would be covered by the Veteran’s Educational Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the post-911 GI Bill.

In order to receive GI Bill approval and funding from the VA, Mr. Davis allegedly lied to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the Texas Veterans’ Commission (TVC), and the VA, stating that Retail Ready had been continuously operating as an educational institution for at least two years, when in truth, Retail Ready had never trained any students.  He also certified that there were no criminal or civil actions against him, when in fact he was facing a criminal charge and multiple civil judgements.  He also mislead a CPA and lied to the TWC, the TVC, and the VA about Retail Ready’s financial condition.

Mr. Davis allegedly concealed Retail Ready’s fraudulently-obtained VA approval from veteran applicants, to whom he also allegedly misrepresented graduates’ career prospects.

Mr. Davis typically charged the VA $18,000 to $21,000 per student-veteran per course. In total, he received over $71 million in GI Bill benefits from the VA.

The indictment alleges that Mr. Davis used the proceeds from his fraud to purchase a home on Lake Forest Drive, in Dallas, Texas, a Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 488, and Bentley Continental GT.

An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence.  Like all defendants, Mr. Davis is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

If convicted, he faces up to 184 years in federal prison.

The VA’s Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office and the United States Postal Inspection Service’s Fort Worth Field Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas Brasher and Fabio Leonardi are prosecuting the case.

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