On Friday, October 6, 2017, Acting United States Attorney Patrick C. Harris announced that a Pine Bluff, Arkansas man had pled guilty to an information charging him with wire fraud. 57-year-old Elbert Harris was accused of stealing more than $1 million that was meant to feed children in low-income areas. Harris is expected to be sentenced at a later date. During Friday’s hearing, Harris confirmed that between 2012 and 2015, he was a sponsor with the feeding program through Greater Faith Ministries.
The organization had locations in Wabbaseka, Altheimer, and Pine Bluff. In all, Harris operated 14 feeding sites. Harris claimed he was serving up to 175 children at some of his sites. It was determined that he was greatly inflating the numbers. Over the course of the scheme, Harris submitted roughly 44 claims and received approximately $1,390,961.05 from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
Harris is now the 14th person to plead guilty in connection with theft of USDA feeding program funds. Two other defendants have been convicted at trial. At the time of his sentencing, Harris will face a maximum of 20 years in prison and three years of supervised years.