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Man gets 29 months for defrauding summer food program

October 8, 2021 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a Louisiana man to nearly 2 1/2 years in prison after he admitted lying about how many children he was feeding under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program.

U.S. District Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced Corey Roshel Powell, 43, of Delhi, Louisiana, to 29 months following his conviction for a scheme to defraud the USDA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana said Friday in a news release.

Dick also ordered Powell to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.

Powell owned and operated The NELLA Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Darrow, Louisiana, that participated in the food program, which was established to ensure children from low-income homes have meals when school is not in session.

In 2014 and 2015, prosecutors said, Powell and a co-defendant inflated the number of meals NELLA served to low-income children, then submitted that false information to USDA with claims for reimbursement.

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The fraudulent claims totaled about $245,000. The defendants used the money for car payments and rent, or withdrew funds for cash, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Last year, the former day-to-day manager of the NELLA Foundation, Janie Johnson Smith, 40, of Monroe was indicted on one fraud count. In July, Smith agreed to a plea deal but court records Friday showed she had not yet been sentenced.

Prosecutors said the two were caught after defaulting on lines of credit used with food distribution companies.