Police arrest fraudulent beauty school owner

WILLINGBORO, N.J. - September 23, 2011

41-year-old Dana Kearney of Hopkins Court in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County was arrested around 8:00 p.m. Thursday without incident. Kearney is charged in New Jersey as a "fugitive of justice", and faces additional charges in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, Action News reported how Upper Merion police released a 14-page arrest warrant for Kearney's arrest.

She lives in an upscale home in Mullica Hill, but no one could find her. That was until her arrest at 12 Twig Lane in Willingboro on Thursday.

Investigators 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.

Police say Kearney collected $10,000 each from 28 students, started their classes and then disappeared.

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.

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.

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

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