On Friday, Acting United States Attorney Patrick C. Harris announced that two women has been sentenced for conspiracy in a scheme to steal funds from a government feeding program. 38-year-old Erica Warren of Little Rock and 38-year-old Alexis Young of Bryant were sentenced in Little Rock before Chief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. Both were sentenced for conspiring to commit mail fraud in relation to a conspiracy to fraudulently acquire USDA funds intended to feed children in low-income areas throughout the school year.
The United States Department of Agriculture funds were meant for the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, which is designed to help at-risk youths. In order to become a sponsor of the program in Arkansas, one must submit an application for approval to the Arkansas Department of Human Services. After they’ve been approved, participants can begin providing meals and receiving reimbursement for the eligible meals served.
Defendant Erica Warren operated a sponsor through an organization called “Write of Passage”. Defendant Alexis Young worked for the DHS and was responsible for verifying the eligibility of sponsors. Ultimately, it was Young’s responsibility to determine whether or not Warren’s sites were eligible for the CACFP.
Both defendants admitted to forming “Write of Passage” to fraudulently acquire funds from the feeding program. The pair inflated the number of children being fed on claims submitted to the Department of Human Services. In total, the sponsor was paid $253,817.44. Both defendants benefited from the proceeds. Warren paid Young in cash and wrote checks payable to one of Young’s family members.
Both women have been sentenced to 18 months in prison along with two years of supervised release. They’ll also be required to pay restitution of $253,817.44.