Friday, September 9, 2016

Arkansas hits big-time exposure with food fraud case

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 9:35 AM

ROCKING: The summer food program, advertised on this flyer, rocked with corruption.
  • ROCKING: The summer food program, advertised on this flyer, rocked with corruption.
The Washington Post delves into the "staggering level" of fraud uncovered by a federal investigation of federally financed programs meant to serve meals to poor children in Arkansas.

We've reported on this investigation as it has unfolded. The Post account puts the theft at near $10 million in misdirected money, with 12 people charged so far, including three officials in the state Human Services Department.

DHS did report a suspicious claim to the USDA, source of the money, and that led to the IRS and FBI. They found inflated claims for money and bribes paid to people who covered up the schemes. The first arrests were announced in 2014.

Over the following year, the investigation continued to turn up sobering discoveries of fraud and bribery.

In one case, a provider named Christopher Nichols submitted a claim to open two meal sites through an organization called “A Vision for Success.” Both locations were approved by King, his aunt.

One site was discovered to be an auto repair shop in North Little Rock owned by Nichols’s uncle Anthony Waits. The other address was nonexistent.
The money taken could have fed millions. Some of the recipients claimed to be feeding as many as 300 children when they were feeding none. The state has reorganized the system. No longer does one employee have responsibility for approving applicants, making inspections and disbursing money.

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