Nashville business owner admits to defrauding veterans - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville business owner admits to defrauding veterans

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV-AP) -

They risk their lives in service to our country, but for thousands of veterans, a threat came right here at home.

A Nashville-area man has admitted to defrauding thousands of military veterans and others seeking job training and job placement services.

Ricky Coleman, 40, owned and operated International Executive Services LLC, Advancement Solutions LLC and RLC Enterprises, which were all based in Hermitage or Antioch.

His main clients were soldiers just returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Between 2006 and 2009, a time when jobs were hard to come by, Coleman promised them training and good paying security jobs in exchange for a fee.

"He also promised them payment during the training cycle - that they would be paid at the same time they were training, and he promised them job placement," said John Webb, deputy criminal chief at the U.S. attorney's office in Nashville.

Coleman never provided that training. He never provided jobs either.

He just took their money and ran, prosecutors said.

He even instructed his employees to lie to his victims, telling them they needed to buy more gear and that they had been specially picked for certain training groups that never existed in the first place.

"These individuals were facing a tough road for jobs anyway, and to have someone engage in predatory conduct like that, it's a case that must be prosecuted," Webb said.

Victims complained, and the Better Business Bureau sent out warnings.

Yet Coleman got away with it time and time again until now.

On Wednesday, Coleman pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and credit card fraud.

Federal prosecutors said Coleman admitted in court that about 2,600 customers paid his companies more than $900,000 thinking he was going to provide training in the areas of counter-terrorism, counter-assault, personal security and special operations. Authorities said that he also admitted that fewer than 20 of the thousands who paid him were ever assigned to training classes.

Webb hopes to get that money back.

"Whether there is any money out there that can be used to repay the victims, there's really no way of telling that," he said.

He also hopes this sends a message.

"We will do what we can to make sure our military people are protected from people who target them for fraudulent activities such as this," Webb said.

Coleman now faces up to 20 years in prison for each of four counts of wire fraud, 20 years for mail fraud and 15 years for credit card fraud.

He also agreed to pay more than $900,000 in restitution to his victims.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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