LITTLE ROCK — A Marianna man was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison and ordered to pay $380,055 in restitution for his role in a scheme to steal money intended to feed children in low-income areas.
James E. Franklin Jr., 34, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in September, according to a news release from Chris Thyer, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Franklin is the fourth defendant sentenced in the scheme in which sponsors of feeding programs fraudulently obtained federal funds by falsely reporting the numbers of children fed.
Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Jacqueline Mills, Dorothy Harper and Anthony Waits are scheduled for trial March 27.
Franklin was a sponsor for a feeding program through an organization called JL&N Outreach and had two approved feeding site locations, one in Hughes and one in Brinkley. Franklin claimed that he fed as many as 244 children a day in Hughes and as many as 287 children a day in Brinkley, but Thyer said that according to witnesses, no more than 10 children per day were fed in Brinkley and no more than 15 children per day were fed in Hughes.
Franklin was recruited by Anthony Waits. Waits’ wife, Gladys Waits, worked for DHS and approved Franklin’s application. Franklin paid Anthony Waits about 40 percent of the $380,055 Franklin received in the scheme, Thyer said.
The investigation is continuing, Thyer said.