AR man pleads guilty to stealing money from feeding program

AR man pleads guilty to stealing money from feeding program

MARIANNA, AR (KAIT) - A Marianna man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after investigators say he conspired to steal money intended to feed children in low-income areas during the school year.

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher R. Thyer announced the guilty plea from James E. Franklin, Jr., 34, on Friday.

Franklin will be sentenced at a later time.

At Friday's hearing, Franklin admitted that in the summer of 2013 he and Anthony Waits met a woman named Dorothy Harper at a bank.

Harper lived in England and was a sponsor who participated in a feeding program through the United States Department of Agriculture that funded after-school feeding programs, according to the press release.

Franklin estimated that during this visit Waits got around $12,000 from Harper.

They are both also charged.

Franklin admitted he agreed to participate with Waits in a scheme to get money from the feeding program.

Franklin was a sponsor for a feeding program through an organization called "JL&N Outreach."

In 2013 and 2014, Franklin submitted approximately 12 inflated claims for feeding sites in Brinkley and Hughes.

In Brinkley, Franklin claimed they served from 217 to 287 children per day.

In Hughes, he claimed they served from 184 to 244 children per day.

According to witnesses, no more than 10 children per day were fed in Brinkley and no more than 15 children per day were fed in Hughes.

Franklin received approximately $380,055.36 from DHS.

Franklin withdrew in cash approximately $252,000 of the money he received and paid Waits approximately 40% of the money he received.

Franklin is the tenth person to plead guilty concerning the theft of USDA feeding program funds for children.

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