Another guilty plea has been announced in the federal investigation of fraud in the federally financed program to provide meals to poor children.
A Justice Department news release said James E. Franklin Jr., 34, of Marianna, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will be sentenced later.
At the plea hearing, Franklin admitted that, in 2013, he and Anthony Waits met an England woman, Dorothy Harper, who participated in the feeding program. Waits got a stack of cash from her. Harper and Waits also have been indicted.
Franklin said he knew little then about the feeding programs. But the stack of cash, $12,000, encouraged him to learn more and and he began working with Waits. He eventually submitted false claims for serving 217 to 287 children per day in Brinkley and 184 to 244 children in Hughes. Actually no more than 10 to 15 were served.
Franklin was paid $380,055 by the state Department of Human Services and withdrew in cash about $252,000 of the money. He paid Waits about 40 percent of that.
Franklin is the tenth person to plead guilty in thefts said to total more than $10 million.
SPEAKING OF STATE AGENCY FRAUD: Here's another case, reported by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
. A former Higher Education and DHS employee faces criminal choices for $142,000 worth of phony billing.