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Bright Star CEO Stole $2M in Fed Child Nutrition Funds

Former Stockbridge High School principal pleads guilty to stealing from a federal program that partially reimburses daycare centers for the cost of meals for needy children.

Sentencing of Antonio T. Hurt is scheduled for June 18, 2014. Credit: Patch file
Sentencing of Antonio T. Hurt is scheduled for June 18, 2014. Credit: Patch file
Bright Star Early Learning Center CEO and former Stockbridge High School Principal Antonio T. Hurt pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stealing nearly $2 million from a federal program that partially reimburses daycare centers for the cost of meals for needy children.

“This defendant stole nearly $2 million in funds intended to feed underprivileged children,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a press release. “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." 

According to Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Between 2007 and 2010, Hurt served as the Chief Executive Officer of Bright Star Early Learning Center, which owned and operated multiple daycare centers throughout metropolitan Atlanta, and in other parts of north Georgia under the name, “Bright Star.”

Hurt also entered into franchise agreements that allowed multiple additional third-party daycare centers to operate under the “Bright Star” name.

In February 2006, Hurt arranged for Bright Star Early Learning Center to apply to participate in the Child & Adult Care Food Program (“CACFP”). CACFP, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the National School Lunch Act of 1964, 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 thresholds. 

In Georgia, the program is administered by the Georgia Department of Early Care & Learning. Child and adult care centers that are eligible to participate in the program are required to submit monthly claims to the Department of Early Care & learning which detail the number of eligible students, meals, and other information for each 30-day period. The Department of Early Care & Learning then reimburses the daycare centers.

Beginning 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 the number of eligible students, meals, and other information. 

As a result, the Department of Early Care & Learning issued fraudulently inflated reimbursement funds to an account that Hurt controlled. Hurt then issued the expected payments to the unsuspecting daycare centers, and retained the fraudulently inflated portion for himself, amounting to approximately $1.9 million over a two-year period. 

Hurt, 38, of Baltimore, Md., used the money to expand and fund the operation of his daycare business, obtaining multimillion dollar acquisition and development loans to build new daycare centers, and in order to live beyond his means. 

Sentencing is scheduled for June 18, 2014.


Allen April 14, 2014 at 09:49 AM
Another Odrama voters doing what their messiah taught them, take other peoples money

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