Franklin woman pleads guilty to mail fraud

Published 5:22 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

On Jan. 27, Stephanie Almond, 61, of Franklin, pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud by defrauding USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. Her daughter, Cindy Hall, 41, of Monroe, North Carolina, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to similar charges along with unlawful monetary transactions.

This information is from the Department of Justice’s Office.

Almond and Hall were indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 8, 2015.

According to the Statement of Facts, the USDA funds the Summer Food Service Program, which is designed to ensure that low-income children continue to receive food when school is not in session. The Virginia Department of Health administers the SFSP under the Nutrition School Program.

Almond was a sponsor for this program. She incorporated Neighborhood Pride, a non-profit corporation, and through them sponsored numerous sites where eligible children would be fed breakfast, lunch and dinner for summers of 2008 through 2011.

After 2011, the VDH disqualified Almond and Neighborhood Pride from participating in SFSP.

In 2012, Hall incorporated Send Thee Community Outreach, another non-profit organization, and through them sponsored 18 sites for SFSP.

Many of these sites were the same ones previously claimed by Almond.

When Hall applied for these sites, she did it for the purpose of executing a scheme and defrauding the VDH and SFSP. Almond knew about the scheme and helped aide the process.

In 2013, Hall and Send Thee Community Outreach applied to sponsor 31 sites and requested advancement payment for operating and administrative costs.

With the assistance of Almond, Hall continued received reimbursements until June 2014, when she received a letter that said they were disqualified as a sponsor.

The scheme resulted in over $150,000, but less than $250,000, in loss to the VDH.

According the plea agreement, Almond could face a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.