Former CEO Of Atlanta Area Daycare Chain Antonio Hurt Convicted Of Stealing Nearly $2 Million

| April 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

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According to a press release Wednesday from the office of U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Antonio Hurt pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $2 million from a federal program that partially reimburses daycare centers for the cost of meals for children in need.  Between 2007 and 2010, the 38 year old served as the CEO of Bright Star Early Learning Center, which owned and operated many daycare centers throughout metro Atlanta, and in other parts of northern Georgia under the name, “Bright Star.”

In February 2006, Hurt arranged for Bright Star Early Learning Center to apply to participate in the Child & Adult Care Food Program (“CACFP”).  CACFP is a federal program that partially reimburses daycare centers for the cost of serving breakfast and lunch to eligible children whose family income falls below certain limits.  In October 2007 and continuing through January 2010, Hurt submitted millions of dollars in CACFP reimbursement claims to the Department of Early Care & Learning on behalf of his own daycare centers and his franchisees.  Hurt’s reimbursement claims intentionally misstated information.  As a result, the Department of Early Care & Learning issued fraudulently inflated reimbursement funds to an account that Hurt controlled. Hurt would then issue the expected payments to the daycare centers, and would retain the fraudulently inflated portions for himself, amounting to approximately $1.9 million over a two-year period.

US Attorney Sally Yates

US Attorney Sally Yates

“This defendant stole nearly $2 million in funds intended to feed underprivileged children,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “This critically important program provides basic sustenance for those most in need.  Instead of paying for school day nutrition, he used the money to expand his daycare business, lease luxury cars, buy jewelry, and pay for other personal expenses.  We will continue to hold accountable those who siphon off public funds for personal use.”

Bobby Cagle, Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)

Bobby Cagle, Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)

“On behalf of the Georgia children and families who rely on this program, I want to thank U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates and the Northern District of Georgia for bringing Dr. Hurt to justice,” said Bobby Cagle, Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), the state agency responsible for administering the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  “No amount of waste or fraud or even attempted waste or fraud will be tolerated and we will continue to turn these cases over for criminal prosecution and seek restitution wherever it is appropriate.  This is literally taking food from those who need it most–infants, young children, the elderly, and chronically impaired disabled persons.  Those who would take advantage of this program through fraud or deception have now been warned.”

Sentencing is scheduled for June 18, 2014, at 2:00 a.m. before United States District Judge Amy Totenberg.

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