Dermott Woman Charged in Superseding Indictment in Scheme to Steal Feeding Program Funds
LITTLE ROCK—Another feeding program sponsor for the Department of Human Services (DHS) has been indicted for her role in a conspiracy to steal federal money earmarked to feed hungry children. Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that Kattie L. Jordan, 50, of Dermott, previously identified as “Co-Conspirator ‘A’” in an indictment that was returned by a Federal Grand Jury on December 11, 2014, was added as a defendant to the original indictment. The indictment already named Gladys Elise King, 34, of England; Tonique D. Hatton, 37, of North Little Rock; and Jacqueline D. Mills, 39, of Helena, as defendants in the case.
The Superseding Indictment, returned by a Federal Grand Jury on April 8, 2015, charges Hatton, Jordan, King, and Mills with conspiracy to fraudulently obtain United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program funds. Additionally, Mills is charged with wire fraud, paying bribes, and engaging in money laundering. King and Hatton are also charged with accepting bribes. The Superseding Indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds obtained as a result of the fraud from the defendants.
According to the Superseding Indictment, the USDA funds the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, which includes an at-risk afterschool component. USDA also funds the Summer Food Service Program. In Arkansas, the feeding programs are administered by 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 Superseding Indictment states that Hatton and King worked for DHS, and part of their job was to determine eligibility of sponsors to participate in the feeding programs. Jordan and Mills operated as sponsors for separate feeding programs. Hatton and King were responsible for approving Jordan’s programs and Mills’ programs at various times.
The Superseding Indictment alleges that Mills and Jordan made bribe payments to DHS employees Hatton and King. In exchange for those bribes, Mills and Jordan would submit inflated numbers of meals purportedly served from their sites. Hatton and King provided protection from DHS scrutiny.
The statutory penalty for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud is not more than 20 years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, or both, and not more than three years’ supervised release. The statutory penalty for receipt of bribes, paying bribes, and money laundering is not more than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, or both, and not more than three 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 Inspector General, and the United States Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jana K. Harris and Allison W. Bragg. If anyone is aware of any fraudulent activity regarding these feeding programs, please e-mail that information to the United States Attorney’s office at USAARE.FeedingProgramFraud@usdoj.gov.
An indictment contains only allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.