Martial arts academy defrauded The Children’s Trust of nearly $300K, prosecutors say

Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. (WPLG)

MIAMIThe now-closed United Martial Arts Academy in Homestead defrauded a local government program to help children in need of about $300,000 between 2015 and 2017, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Investigators believe the academy, co-owned by Enrique Regalado and Kelly Mendoza, was defrauding The Children’s Trust, which has been funded by taxpayers in Miami-Dade County since 2002.

No business is currently operating out of the martial arts academy’s prior location at 230 N. Krome Ave.

Mendoza, UMAA’s program director, billed for children and employees who didn’t exist, prosecutors said. Mendoza is facing charges of organized scheme to defraud and grand theft.

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released a statement saying The Children’s Trust reported the case to investigators and prosecutors.

“The alleged theft of Children’s Trust funds hurts those kids who need help the most,” Fernandez Rundle said.

The Children’s Trust reported the 2020-21 general fund budget allocated $157.5 million to contracted programs in Miami-Dade County.

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.