Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fraud charged in federally funded child feeding program

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 4:43 PM

The U.S. attorney's office has announced another indictment of a former state worker for defrauding money in operation of a feeding program for children.

A news release said that Christopher Nichols, 24, of North Little Rock inflated the number of meals served under his afterschool program, A Vision for Success. He worked with a relative at the Department of Human Services, where he also worked.

In December, three former DHS employees were indicted for $1 million worth of fraud in feeding programs. More indictments are expected.

The U.S. attorney's news release follows:




Another feeding program sponsor has been indicted for his role in a scheme to steal federal money. Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that Christopher Nichols, age 24, of North Little Rock, has surrendered to authorities after the filing of a 10-count indictment.

The indictment, returned by a Federal Grand Jury on February 4, 2015, charges Nichols
with wire fraud as part of a scheme to fraudulently obtain United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program funds.

According to the indictment, the USDA funds the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program,
which includes an at-risk afterschool component. In Arkansas, the feeding programs are
administered by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Sponsors who want to participate in the feeding programs must submit an application to DHS for approval. Once approved, they can provide meals as part of the feeding program and be reimbursed based on the number of eligible meals they serve.

The indictment states that Nichols operated as a sponsor for a feeding program through an
organization called A Vision For Success. It alleges that a relative of Nichols worked for DHS and processed applications from sponsors applying to participate in the feeding programs.

The indictment alleges that Nichols applied with DHS to participate as a sponsor and that
his relative at DHS approved his applications. The only employees Nichols listed on his
applications were additional family members. The indictment states that he falsely represented his average daily attendance and greatly inflated the number of meals provided; few or no children were actually fed.

“With reportedly over 200,000 children at risk of hunger in Arkansas because they are not
getting nutritious food needed to thrive, this indictment is a small step toward ensuring the funding for nutritious feeding programs in Arkansas is actually feeding children,” stated Thyer. “This is the second indictment and fourth person charged in connection to feeding programs in Arkansas. In December, 2014, my office indicted three individuals for their roles in a conspiracy to steal federal money through feeding programs administered by the Department of Agriculture. I expect that as the investigation into Arkansas’ feeding programs continues, there will be additional indictments. We will not tolerate the blatant disregard of the welfare of Arkansas’ children by those who steal the very money meant to alleviate the burgeoning need to put nutritious food in the mouths of hungry children. If you are aware of any fraudulent activity regarding these feeding programs, please email that information to my office at USAARE.FeedingProgramFraud@usdoj.gov.”

“It is again another example of the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal agencies
to aggressively investigate and prosecute these individuals whose depravity has no bounds,” stated Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Brian Marr. “This manipulator of the system who took food from children, and expensed it off to the people of the state of Arkansas, deserves every bit of punishment allowable by law.”

United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Assistant Special
Agent-in-Charge Dax Roberson, Southwest Region said, “I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office, OIG special agents, and our investigative partners for their hard work on this investigation.

When the integrity of nutrition programs for needy children is violated by criminal conduct, the Office of Inspector General will pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Stealing money from a fund that was reputedly feeding underprivileged and disadvantaged children is deplorable,” stated Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Hendricks with the Little Rock FBI, “We appreciate the tireless efforts of our partners, Internal Revenue Service, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligent resolve to investigate this appalling crime.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to identify, investigate and prosecute financial fraud schemes, especially when the victims of the fraud are disadvantaged children that programs such as this are meant to benefit,” stated Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS- Criminal Investigation Nashville Field Office.

The statutory penalty for wire fraud is not more than 20 years imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, or both, and not more than 3 years supervised release.

The investigation is ongoing and is conducted by the United States Secret Service, Federal
Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, United States
Department of Agriculture – Office of the Inspector General, and United States Marshals Service.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jana Harris and Allison W. Bragg. 

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Tom Cotton suggests Dick Cheney as House speaker

    Yes. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton told Politico he'd like to see Dick Cheny as House speaker.
    • Oct 12, 2015
  • One to veto: An anti-1st Amendment bill from Trent Garner

    UN experts are speaking out against danger to freedom of assembly in legislation proposed by Sen. Trent Garner in Arkansas and mirrored by Republican legislation in 18 other states.
    • Mar 31, 2017
  • 'How to decimate a city' — a big freeway

    Reporting from around the U.S. continues to illustrate the folly of the Arkansas highway department and construction boosters like the chamber of commerce and Vice Mayor Lance Hines in advocating ever wider freeways through the heart of Little Rock. Syracuse, N.Y., is looking for a better way in a debate remarkably similar to the debate about widening Interstate 30 in Little Rock.
    • Nov 20, 2015

Most Shared

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation