Kattie Jordan, 51, of Dermott, was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for her role in the widespread scheme to steal money intended for feeding children in low income areas, according to a news release from Christopher R. Thyer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Jordan, who pleaded guilty in August 2015, to conspiring to commit wire fraud was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay joint restitution of more than $3.6 million, along with any other defendants who may be sentenced to the same restitution amount.
Jordan is the first defendant sentenced who was charged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain USDA funds that were intended to be used to feed children in low income areas. Anthony Leon Waits, Gladys Elise Waits, Tonique D. Hatton, Jacqueline D. Mills, Dortha M. Harper, and Jordan are charged with conspiring to fraudulently obtain USDA program funds and related crimes.
Jordan and Mills were sponsors for separate feeding programs. Gladys Waits and Hatton worked for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, and part of their job was to determine eligibility of sponsors to participate in the feeding programs. Gladys Waits and Hatton approved Jordan’s and Mills’ programs at various times.
Although Jordan and Mills did feed some children, the charges allege that Mills and Jordan submitted claims for many more meals than they actually served. Gladys Waits and Hatton approved applications for Mills and Jordan, which facilitated the payment of the fraudulent claims. Mills and Jordan then made bribe payments to Gladys Waits and Hatton, sometimes directly and at other times indirectly through their relatives, according to Thyer’s news release.
The amount of Jordan’s fraud, over and above any children actually being fed, was in the millions of dollars.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, the United States argued that not only were these millions of dollars not used to provide meals for hungry children, but also that the fraud Jordan and others engaged in impacted the integrity of the feeding programs. The United States argued that, because of the fraud, simply focusing on statistics, such as the amount of money paid through the programs or the number of children allegedly being fed, does not provide an accurate way to gauge the success of these feeding programs.
The remaining defendants in the case are scheduled to stand trial beginning May 16, 2016.
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 3 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 3 years supervised release.
The ongoing investigation is conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture—Office of Inspector General, United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the United States Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jana K. Harris and Allison W. Bragg.