There have been 30 police reports against a fraudulent Georgia “school” and now, its director is facing a slew of felony charges.
Atlanta’s ABC Channel 2 reports that on Friday, a grand jury indicted Rommys Beltran, the former director of Advancing Youth Academy on Holcomb Bridge Road in Alpharetta, on 29 charges, including child cruelty, theft, battery, and insurance fraud. Four other people that worked at the school were also indicted on battery and child cruelty charges.
According to court documents, the school was initially approved as a business in 2010. AJC reports that the school lost its accreditation in 2014. The school reportedly remained in business regardless and continued to take parents’ money and enroll students.
“The person in charge of the school was charging people tuition and essentially really taking their money for services they couldn’t provide,” Roswell Officer Lisa Holland previously told Channel 2.
In 2015, officers with the Roswell Police Department raided the school after numerous complaints from parents. Although children were sent to the school to learn discipline, many parents were reportedly shocked by the so-called discipline the school staff allegedly doled out.
Further, Beltran is accused of pretending to be a psychiatrist and billing insurance companies for psychological services, despite the fact that she’s not a doctor in any field.
“We have discovered more than $300,000 in insurance claims submitted for payment by Beltran before her arrest,” Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said. “My investigators believe that many of the claims are fraudulent.”
Parents reported that children were being pepper-sprayed, handcuffed, made to sleep on concrete, given unauthorized haircuts and forced to walk like dogs. AJC reports that one child allegedly ended up in the hospital after being made to run with tires.
Further, a former van driver for the school told police she saw “two cadets handcuffed lying on the floor eating.”
The woman added that her own daughter was enrolled at AYA, but when she took her out and enrolled her in a different school, she learned that since AYA was not an accredited school, her daughter, who was supposed to be a high school senior, would have to start school as a freshman.
Rhonda and Rob Repasz enrolled their son in AYA with the understanding that he could later re-enroll in public school without issues. They said they were shocked and hurt when they realized none of his credits gained at AYA would transfer.
The couple said they ended up losing $12,000 in tuition to AYA while their son struggled to retake his ninth-grade classes while enrolled back in public school in tenth grade.
“She knew what she was doing. She knew it was wrong. She deceived us. She lied to us and that’s wrong,” Repasz said. “I just don’t want this to ever happen to anyone else.”
Sandy Springs attorney Doug Rohan spoke with AJC and indicated that parents of around 21 students plan to file a civil suit against Beltran after her recent indictment.
“These families have been suffering for years,” Rohan said.
AYA is now permanently closed. Check back for further details.
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[Feature Photo: Rommys Beltran/Police Handout]