The leaders of a nonprofit intended to feed hungry children instead spent money on Maseratis, flights to Cancun and other high-end purchases, officials said.
The nonprofit Helping Others In Need provided meals to underprivileged kids in Pennsylvania who needed food after school or during the summer, using funding from a couple of U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.
But federal authorities said a trio of Texas residents running the organization lied about how many children they fed and spent the funds on a lavish lifestyle.
Charles Simpson, a 43-year-old from Southlake, and Tanisha Jackson, 49, and Paige Jackson, 29, a mother and daughter from Lancaster, have been charged.
According to an indictment unsealed this week in a Pennsylvania federal court, all three had been blocked from participating in feeding programs in Texas and Arkansas due to previous misconduct before forming Helping Others In Need, but Simpson and Tanisha Jackson used aliases to enroll the nonprofit in two feeding programs.
All three falsely said they’d never been deemed ineligible to participate in publicly funded programs, the indictment said.
From 2015 to 2019, they’re accused of submitting claims for half a million meals and snacks that were never served to children, according to the indictment, and sometimes they sought reimbursement for food served at sites that hadn’t been in operation for weeks or months.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education paid the nonprofit over $4 million over four years.
According to the indictment, the fraudulent spending included:
Over $120,000 on Armani, Balenciaga, Louboutin, Fendi, Versace, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus and Zara USA.
$500,000 on payments for a Hummer, two Mercedes, two Range Rovers, two Maseratis, a Bentley and a Porsche.
A dozen cash withdrawals over $10,000 that totaled $265, 150.
Tens of thousands on flights and rental cars.
Tens of thousands in funds transferred to personal bank accounts.
Simpson was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice. Tanisha Jackson was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Paige Jackson was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
“It’s very disappointing when greed and selfishness take over and deprive our youth of much needed funding to provide them with nutritious meals,” FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall said in statement. “To use a nonprofit organization as a means to engage in fraud targeting USDA-funded feeding programs is unacceptable.”