Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another guilty plea in kids' feeding program fraud

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 10:25 AM

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer has announced another guilty plea in the investigation of fraud in federally financed feeding programs for poor children operated through the state Human Services Department.

Maria Carmen Nelson, 50, of Little Rock  has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and will be sentenced later. She was indicted in October related to $575,000 in fraudulent claims for USDA money as reimbursement for school-year feeding programs in Malvern and Little Rock. Said a release from Thyer's office:

Nelson operated as a sponsor for a feeding program through an organization called "Securing Our Future" between approximately March 2012 and March 201 5 with approved sites in Little Rock and Malvern, Arkansas.

Nelson was recruited to participate by a DHS employee who worked in the section that oversaw its feeding  programs. Nelson and the DHS employee both had an understanding it would be a fraudulent scheme, with each taking a portion of the proceeds. As part of the scheme, the number of children who were fed at Nelson's sites would be inflated. Out of the money Nelson received as a result of the inflated claims, Nelson would pay cash back to the DHS employee [no longer a state employee].

The investigation has produced a number of indictments and continues. Anyone with tips is encouraged to write USAARE.FeedingProgramFraud@usdoj.gov.

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