Search for fraudulent beauty school owner

September 21, 2011 4:04:33 PM PDT
The search is on for a woman who officials say launches nursing and beauty schools, but then vanishes into thin air.

Upper Merion police have a 14-page arrest warrant for 41-year-old Dana Kearney.

She lives in an upscale home in Mullica Hill, but no one can find her.

The police say Kearney ran the Westbrook Prep School out of a building in New Castle, Delaware with a satellite classroom in Upper Merion.

The website promises an accelerated program for nursing students.

The police say Kearney collected $10,000 apiece from 28 students, started their classes and then disappeared.

"Two months into the program, she shut it down

Cathy Hagen of Plymouth Meeting is one of her students. She says two months into the program, Kearney shut it down.

Hagen is now out almost $12,000, but she has tried to get her money back.

"There was no response. They just assured me that school would be starting up again, and to be patient," Hagen said.

The police say Kearney has a pattern of starting schools, then stops paying rent and salaries and walks away with the tuition money.

"Absconds with the money, starts a new facility or school under a different name and does it all over and over again," Upper Merion Police Detective Andrew Rathfon said.

Yesterday Action News reported about students left holding the bag at Kearney's JMJ School of Beauty in Pitman.

One of her former nursing instructors told police, "Not one of her students got what they paid for."

Kearney is being investigated by authorities in three states and she's wanted for allegedly passing bad checks in two others.

Until last Friday Kearney was the administrator of the Gloucester Manor Nursing Home in Sewall.

When police showed up with the arrest warrant Kearney bolted out the back door.

Police say she's slippery, using at least five different aliases, including Dana Kelly, the name she used when she was convicted for burglary in Illinois 12 years ago.

Her alleged victims want it to end.

"She needs to be stopped. She needs to be stopped doing this. She can't continue on like this," Hagen said.

Investigators believe this is just the tip of a much larger iceberg with many more victims out there.

If you know anything about Dana Kearney, Upper Merion police want to hear from you.

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