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Arkansas man sentenced to prison for food program fraud

A U.S. district judge sentenced Anthony Waits of England to 175 months in prison followed by three years supervised release for his role in a food program fraud. (Photo: MGN)

A 38-year-old man is headed to prison for his role in a scheme to steal money intended to feed children in low-income areas.

Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced Thursday that a U.S. district judge sentenced Anthony Waits of England to 175 months in prison followed by three years supervised release. He is also expected to pay $3,316,280.85 in restitution.

Waits is accused of recruiting sponsors to participate in the USDA feeding programs and having those sponsors pay a percentage of the $3.3 million they received from the program back to him. The feeding programs are administered through the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Once DHS approves a sponsor, they can provide meals to children in need through the program and are reimbursed for the eligible meals they serve.

According to Hiland, Waits' estranged wife, Gladys Waits, worked for DHS and was responsible for processing applications from sponsors, determining their eligibility, and approving their proposed feeding sites. She also helped these sponsors avoid DHS’s detection of the fraud.

Five of the sponsors pleaded guilty to their involvement in the scheme and say Waits was paid about 40 percent of what they received.

Waits, the 12th defendant to be sentenced in the case, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud back in April.

Although everyone initially indicted in this scheme has now been convicted, the investigation is still ongoing, and continues to be conducted by the USDA–Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Marshals Service.


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