She billed for bogus karate school students in South Florida. Now, she’s a convicted felon

The Homestead martial arts academy operator who ripped off taxpayers by billing "ghost" students was spared jail after paying $225,000 in compensation and fines.
Kelly Regalado, who ran the United Martial Arts Academy, pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to 10 years probation. The school, which had been financed largely from public funds, was also closed. While on probation, Regalado is also not allowed to work for organizations that receive public funds.
Regalado, 45, pleaded guilty to charges of organized fraud and wire fraud. Her defense attorney, Miguel San Pedro, declined to comment after Friday's hearing.
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The lawsuit came nearly two years after prosecutors accused Regalado and the school itself of over $350,000 from the Miami-Dade Children's Trust, a taxpayer-funded organization that provides grants to programs that serve poor and at-risk children. charged with fraudulent intent.
The school billed students who never existed, according to the Miami-Dade Inspector General's Office.
According to a memo released by Inspector General Felix Jimenez, the academy was enrolled in two programs — one for after-school programs, another for summer camps — that reimbursed expenses associated with students and staff. Agents checked the academy's accounts between 2013 and 2017.
Henry Regalado and his wife Kelly ran the United Martial Arts Academy in Homestead. Authorities accused the school and Kelly Regalado of fraudulently billing taxpayers for nearly $300,000 in grants.
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They discovered that Regalado used fake checks, false money transfer records, and even fake student attendance records to bill over $350,000. The trust actually paid out just under $300,000.
The school also overstated staffing costs, agents found. That included paying Kelly Regalado's mother under two different names, money that was returned to her daughter, the memo said. When the Trust questioned Regalado, she produced "fake bank statements," Jimenez wrote.
She ran the academy with her husband, martial arts instructor Henry Regalado, who describes himself as a ninth-degree black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. He wasn't charged.
Regalado paid $180,000 in restitution to the trust. Another $45,000 was paid to the inspector general's office, prosecutor Carol Jordan told District Judge Tanya Brinkley.

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