Alleged Ghost Employees and Ghost Students Lead to Criminal Charges
Miami (September 30, 2020) – As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector
General and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, felony charges have been filed against United Martial Arts
Academy, Inc. (UMAA) and its Program Director, Kelly Mendoza Regalado, for allegedly falsely billing The
Children’s Trust almost $300,000. Kelly Regalado oversaw the administrative affairs of UMMA, including grant
application and compliance, and invoicing the Children’s Trust.
The Children’s Trust affords program grants aimed at serving the children and families of Miami-Dade County by
providing various services, particularly focusing on neighborhoods with the highest rates of poverty.
“Miami-Dade taxpayers created The Children’s Trust to better the lives of our community’s at-risk children,” said State
Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “The alleged theft of Children’s Trust funds hurts those kids who need help the
most. The Children’s Trust deserves credit for bringing this matter to the attention of investigators and prosecutors who
always work together to preserve taxpayer monies.”
The alleged false grant expenses, charged at UMAA’s Trust-funded programs in Homestead, primarily related to billing
for children who never attended UMAA’s Trust-funded programs and employees who never worked for UMAA,
technically described as “ghost children and ghost employees.”
“Theft in any form is repugnant, but it is particularly vile to line one’s own pockets with funds designated to help the
children of our community. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to work with its partners to ensure that
County taxpayer funds are available for their purpose, and that those who would divert them are held accountable,” said
Interim Inspector General Felix Jimenez.
UMAA and Ms. Regalado have each been charged with:
• 1 count – Organized Scheme to Defraud over $50,000; 1st Degree Felony
• 1 count – Grand Theft over $100,000; 1st Degree Felony
• 1 count – Communications Fraud; 3rd Degree Felony
Griffith, Public Information Officer, at EdGriffith@MiamiSAO.com to make the necessary arrangements.
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