PITTSBURGH, PA — A resident of Texas was sentenced in federal court for his role in defrauding federally-funded meal programs, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced.
Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab sentenced Charles Simpson, 44, of Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, to 30 months incarceration following his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Judge Schwab also ordered Simpson to pay restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the amount of $1,500,000, and to forfeit an additional approximately $427,000.
During Simpson’s plea hearing on May 19, 2022, he admitted, among other things, that he and his co-conspirators, Tanisha Jackson and Paige Jackson, operated HOIN, Inc. (HOIN), a Texas-based non-profit organization. The co-conspirators caused HOIN (a/k/a Helping Others In Need) to enroll as a “sponsor” in two programs funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the purpose of providing meals to underprivileged youth—the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) (collectively, the feeding programs). CACFP funded after-school meal service during the school year, while SFSP operated in the summer months. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PADOE) administered the USDA-funded feeding programs. Simpson also acknowledged having previously been excluded from participating in the feeding programs in other states.
As part of the conspiracy, Simpson admitted that he and Tanisha Jackson caused the submission of false enrollment documentation to PADOE on behalf of HOIN in connection with its participation in CACFP and SFSP between 2015 and 2019. Among other misrepresentations, HOIN’s applications to PADOE used aliases for Simpson and Tanisha Jackson as a means to obscure their involvement and falsely certified that none of its principals had been excluded from the feeding programs. Simpson further admitted causing HOIN to submit reimbursement claims for hundreds of thousands of meals that were never served to eligible children by either inflating the number of meals that, in fact, were served, or by seeking reimbursements for meals purportedly served on days on which the identified feeding site was not operating at all. To conceal their fraudulent conduct and justify HOIN’s claimed meal service, Simpson and Tanisha Jackson submitted fabricated documents to PADOE in connection with periodic program reviews. On certain occasions, Tanisha Jackson would impersonate Paige Jackson, her daughter, in interactions with PADOE. Likewise, Paige Jackson used a fictitious name in dealings with PADOE. In total, PADOE issued reimbursement payments to HOIN in excess of approximately $4 million between 2015 and 2019.
In connection with the money laundering conspiracy, Simpson admitted that he and Tanisha Jackson engaged in numerous financial transactions involving the proceeds of the fraud. Specifically, Simpson and Tanisha Jackson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in HOIN reimbursements on shopping sprees at high-end apparel stores, personal air travel and lodging, and the acquisition of at least nine luxury vehicles, including a Bentley, two Land Rovers, two Maseratis, two Mercedes, a Hummer, and a Porsche. Simpson and Tanisha Jackson also withdrew cash from HOIN bank accounts in excess of $10,000 on more than a dozen occasions.
Tanisha Jackson and Paige Jackson have separately entered guilty pleas and will be sentenced on Oct. 20, 2022, and Nov. 2, 2022, respectively.
Assistant United States Attorneys Eric G. Olshan and Nicole Vasquez Schmitt are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation of the defendants in this case.
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