PITTSBURGH, PA — A resident of Dallas, Texas, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court for her role in defrauding federally funded meal programs, announced Acting United States Attorney Troy Rivetti.
United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab sentenced Tanisha Jackson, 50, of Dallas, Texas, to 36 months incarceration following her guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Schwab also ordered Jackson to pay restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the amount of $1,500,000 and to forfeit more than $427,000.
During Jackson’s plea hearing on May 18, 2022, she admitted, among other things, that she and co-conspirators Charles Simpson and Paige Jackson—Jackson’s daughter—operated HOIN, Inc. (HOIN), a Texas-based non-profit organization. Jackson 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. Jackson also acknowledged that she previously had been excluded from participating in the same feeding programs in Texas and Arkansas.
As part of the conspiracy, Jackson admitted that she 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 Jackson and Simpson to obscure their involvement and falsely certified that none of the entity’s principals had been excluded from the feeding programs. Jackson 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, Jackson and Simpson submitted fabricated documents to PADOE in connection with periodic program reviews. On certain occasions, Jackson would impersonate her daughter Paige Jackson 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, Jackson admitted that she and Simpson engaged in numerous financial transactions involving the proceeds of the fraud. Specifically, Jackson and Simpson 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. Jackson and Simpson also withdrew cash from HOIN bank accounts in excess of $10,000 on more than a dozen occasions.
Simpson and Paige Jackson separately pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and were sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and three years probation, respectively. When announcing Jackson’s sentence, Judge Schwab rejected her claim that she was less culpable than Simpson, noting that Jackson had brought her own daughter, Paige Jackson, into the conspiracy.
Assistant United States Attorneys Eric G. Olshan and Nicole Vasquez Schmitt prosecuted 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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