Two sentenced for reimbursement scheme

Published 10:15 am Friday, July 15, 2016

A mother and daughter have been ordered to pay nearly $250,000 in restitution after their scheme to defraud the federal government fell apart.

Stephanie Almond, 61, of Franklin, and her daughter, Cindy Hall, 41, of Monroe, North Carolina, will each serve time in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year. Almond will serve one year and one day, while Hall will serve 15 months.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hall ran a non-profit called Send Thee Community Outreach. Almond had previously run a program called Neighborhood Pride.

The two organizations, one of which was registered in Suffolk, purportedly administered a summer food service program federally funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The program is meant to reimburse entities for providing meals to needy children in qualifying districts during the summer, when free lunch programs at school are not available.

Reimbursement requests are submitted to the Virginia Department of Health based on the number of children fed. However, according to court documents, the two women asked site administrators to tally the number of children fed in pencil, which they altered to exaggerate the number of children fed at each site. In some cases, sites listed as providing meals weren’t part of the program at all.

In 2012 and 2013, Hall submitted fraudulent claims totaling at least $150,000 in overpayment.

Almond ran her organization from 2008 to 2011, when she was disqualified by the Virginia Department of Health.

Hall used the proceeds of the scheme for personal expenses, including purchasing two vehicles, according to the court documents. Both vehicles, as well as real estate and bank accounts, are now subject to seizure by the state, the documents state.