A man in northern Louisiana was sentenced to nearly 2.5 years in federal prison after admitting to lying to the United States Department of Agriculture about the number of children he was feeding as part of the Meal Program. summer of the agency.
Corey Roshel Powell, 43, of Delhi, was sentenced to 29 months in prison, the US prosecutor’s office said on Friday.
According to prosecutors, Powell ran the NELLA Foundation, a non-profit organization that participated in the summer food program in Bastrop, Winnsboro and Marion. Although NELLA operated in northern Louisiana, the nonprofit was based in the small eastern Ascension community of Darrow, southwest of Gonzales, prosecutors said.
In 2014 and 2015, the government said Powell and a co-accused inflated the number of meals NELLA served to low-income children, then submitted the bogus numbers with claims for reimbursement.
Over the two summers, claims totaled approximately $ 265,000. Prosecutors say Powell deposited more than $ 84,000 of those refunds over the course of two years into a private bank account he used for his personal expenses and to share with his co-conspirator.
Powell and the co-accused used the money to pay for the car and rent, or withdrew the money in cash, according to the U.S. prosecutor’s office in Baton Rouge. Prosecutors said the two were arrested after defaulting on lines of credit used with food distribution companies.
Two involved in scheme to defraud poor children’s program
The summer food program was put in place to ensure that children in low income households have meals when school is not in progress.
Last year, former NELLA Foundation Daily Director Janie Johnson Smith, 40, of Monroe was charged with one count of fraud.
Prosecutors say Smith later admitted to submitting false documents that “grossly inflated” the amount of food the NELLA Foundation served children. She pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public funds in early September.
Her conviction is pending and she faces up to 10 years in prison. The court also ordered Smith to forgo the $ 36,760 she stole from the government.
Powell pleaded one count of wire fraud on October 21, 2020, but U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick did not convict him until Thursday in Baton Rouge. In addition to the prison sentence, Powell is facing three years of supervised release following his release from prison and faces forfeiture of his ill-gotten gains, prosecutors said.
Powell is due to surrender to the US marshals to begin his prison term by December 10.
For both Smith and Powell, prosecutors filed information under seal after their pleas were made and withheld information prior to Powell’s conviction.