Minden, Louisiana Woman Sentenced for Theft of Government Funds | USAO-SDMS

JACKSON, Massachusetts – A Minden woman was sentenced Tuesday, November 23, 2021 to 24 months in Bureau of Prisons custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $244,060.09 in embezzlement and divert government funds for her own use.

U.S. Attorney Darren J. Lamarca of the Southern District of Mississippi, Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams Jr. of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Dax Robertson of the USDA in New Orleans, and Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street made this statement. Advertising.

According to court documents, Teresa Garner, 60, was a director and registered agent of Safe Haven Development, Inc. , which is a non-profit company. Safe Haven has entered into an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Education’s Nutrition Support Division to participate in several child nutrition programs, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Nutrition Program. Funding for these programs is federal government funds administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Safe Haven received federal funding and participated in these programs from 2011 through 2015 by providing meals to those children and adults enrolled in participating childcare centers, adult daycares, and daycares.

Garner used Child Nutrition Program funds for personal use in the form of donations, gifts, and purchases from retail stores, hotels, and restaurants. For example, on December 15, 2015, Teressia Garner planned a Christmas party for Safe Haven employees at Wyndham Garden Shreveport. Defendant paid the party a total of $9578.48 in Program funds that were deposited into the Safe Business Account. The party included the cost of renting a large ballroom, food and an open bar serving alcoholic drinks. Program funds used for the ceremony were intended to be used for child nutrition programs and not for entertainment purposes.

“Garner’s demonstrated greed for self-indulgence at the expense of those for whom this program was intended in Louisiana, Mississippi or elsewhere will not be tolerated,” said US Attorney Darren Lamarca, whose office handled the prosecution process. Partners in Louisiana, at the federal and state levels, to follow this investigation back to its responsible source.”

“Today’s ruling sends a clear message that individuals like Ms. Teresa Garner who brazenly steal from children in need will be held accountable,” said New Orleans FBI Special Agent Douglas Williams Jr. committed greed Scam against the USDA Summer Food Service program designed to provide children in low-income areas with nutritious meals during the summer when school is not in session. We thank our partners in the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Mississippi, State Inspector General, Louisiana, and Office of Inspector General, USDA.”

“I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Special Agents in the Office of Inspector General, and our investigative partners for their hard work in this investigation,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the US Department of Agriculture in the Office of Inspector General Dax Roberson. During criminal conduct, the IGO will pursue justice to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street commented: “Ms. Garner’s sentencing is just the outcome of a sad episode of greed and a callous disregard for children’s welfare. We are committed to working on as many of these criminal cases as necessary to make sure the message gets across – we cannot and will not tolerate more with her.” Street added, “Continuing acclaim for Assistant United States Attorney Erin Chalk and Megan McCalla, the FBI and the USDA.”

Garner pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division on July 9, 2021.

The case was brought by Assistant United States Attorney Erin Chalk and Megan McCalla, under the authority granted by 28 USC §515, to appear in the Western District of Louisiana.

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