Little Rock Man Arrested in Ongoing Scheme to Steal Feeding Program Funds
LITTLE ROCK—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 Michael R. Lee, age 24, of Little Rock, was arrested Wednesday following the filing of a 20-count indictment.
The indictment, returned by a Federal Grand Jury on July 7, 2015, charges Lee with 20 counts of wire fraud as part of a scheme to fraudulently obtain United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program funds. Lee appeared Thursday, July 9, 2015, before United States Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray and was released on bond.
According to the indictment, the USDA funds the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, which includes an at-risk after school 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 Lee operated as a sponsor for a feeding program through an organization called Our Children of Tomorrow. It alleges that a relative of Lee worked for DHS and processed applications from sponsors applying to participate in the feeding programs.
Lee applied with DHS to participate as a sponsor and then had his relative at DHS approved his applications. The indictment states that Lee falsely represented his average daily attendance and greatly inflated the number of meals provided. At one location, he reported attendance ranging from 115 to 450 children, when no more than 25-30 children 425 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 500 (501) 340-2600 Post Office Box 1229 Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-1229 were ever seen there. At another location, Lee reported between 76 to 350 children, but no children were seen at that feeding site.
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 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 United States Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jana Harris and Allison W. Bragg.
If you are aware of any fraudulent activity regarding these feeding programs, please e-mail that information to the U.S. Attorney’s office at USAARE.FeedingProgramFraud@usdoj.gov.
An indictment contains only allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.