Democratic congressional candidate Shaun Brown had been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraud and theft of government property.
According to the indictment, Brown and others with JOBS Community Outreach Development Corp allegedly filed fraudulent claims with the Summer Food Service Program in 2012.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is prosecuting the case, said Brown herself directed JOBS staff to adjust the number of children the program fed upward, inflating the number and falsifying documents to obtain additional money.
Brown has been charged with wire fraud and theft of government property, which holds a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Brown denies the allegations and has pledged to mount a strong defense.
“We will vigorously defend. She maintains her innocence,” her attorney, Jimmy Ellenson, said. According to Ellenson, there has been a “longstanding dispute between her and the feds about this whole thing.”
Brown accuses the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Health and several officials of discriminating against her and JOBS, an organization she co-founded with her mother, Jenever Brown, according to the Daily Press.
Brown has filed a lawsuit against them, which says the USDA, state health department and five officials unlawfully delayed payments, and falsified reimbursements and claims for reimbursements.
Brown alleges that in 2016, USDA officials made it impossible to find financing to “satisfy its prior financial commitments for 2012.” They were also unable to secure $625,000 needed to buy a facility for use as a central kitchen for JOBS’ summer feeding programs.
State health officials, meanwhile, made calls that ended agreements JOBS hoped to arrange with funding groups and others. The lawsuit says the state falsely claimed JOBS was involved in fraud, labeled them “high risk,” and cost them opportunities.
The suit, which seeks $10 million in damages, is not about the money, Brown says. Instead, “[t]his is about making sure there are no hungry children in Hampton Roads.”
Ellenson says the timing of the criminal complaint against Brown is unusual, given Brown’s recently filed lawsuit.
“And why would they do this right before Christmas?” he wondered.
Brown ran for Congress in 2016 and lost to Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach). She is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2018 race.
— Daily Press (@Daily_Press) December 20, 2017
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