A 50-year-old Dermott woman involved in a scheme to steal federal funds intended to feed hungry children pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer.
Kattie Lannie Jordan entered the plea in U.S. District Court before Judge Susan Webber Wright and will be sentenced by Wright at a later date, according to Thyer.
“Jordan and others stole money that was intended to feed poor and hungry children,” Thyer said. “We are pleased that Ms. Jordan has accepted responsibility for her conduct. We are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who abuse a system designed to help those in need.”
Thyer said a federal grand jury in April 2015 returned an indictment against Jordan, Gladys Elise Waits (formerly known as) Gladys Elise King, Tonique D. Hatton and Jacqueline D. Mills, charging them with conspiring to fraudulently obtain USDA program funds.
Mills is also charged with wire fraud, paying bribes, and engaging in money laundering while King and Hatton are also charged with accepting bribes.
King 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. Jordan and Mills operated as sponsors for separate feeding programs. King and Hatton were responsible for approving Jordan’s and Mills’ programs at various times.
The indictment alleges that Mills and Jordan made bribe payments to King and Hatton. Mills and Jordan submitted claims for many more meals than they actually served, and King and Hatton approved these inflated numbers so the programs could receive DHS payments.
A January 4 trial date has been set for King, Hatton, and Mills.
The statutory penalty for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud is up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, or both, and not more than three years supervised release. The 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 remains 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.