Multimillion-dollar federal fraud case brings nine-year sentence | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Multimillion-dollar federal fraud case brings nine-year sentence

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 7:48 PM

Tonique Hatton, 39, of North Little Rock, was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in federal prison and two years of supervised release for her role in a program to steal federal money sent to the Department of Human Services to feed poor children after school and during the summer.

She was also ordered to make restitution of $7.6 million and forfeit $17,681.

She had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud last September and was sentenced by  Judge James M. Moody Jr., according to a U.S. Justice Department news release.

In a separate case Wednesday, the U.S. attorney's office said Michael Lee, 26, of Little Rock pleaded guilty to participating in a similar scheme. He had approved sites to operate feeding programs at Our Children of Tomorrow in Arkadelphia and Little Rock. He claimed reimbursements for feeding as many as 800 children, but never served more than 30, the Justice Department said. This amounted to some $666,000 in wrongful reimbursements a news release said. He'll be sentenced later.

Hatton was the third defendant sentenced and received the longest sentence of the three. Eight others have pleaded guilty and await sentencing. Three are scheduled for trial in March.

As a DHS employee, Hatton processed applications from those seeking to sponsor feeding programs. She admitted taking bribes from those hoping to have programs approved. She also helped them avoid detection for fraud, the  news release said

The Justice Department said the investigation is ongoing.

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