LITTLE ROCK —A former state Department of Human Services worker was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for her role in a scheme to steal money intended for feeding children in low-income areas.
Gladys Waits, 37, of Little Rock also was ordered to pay $9.7 million in restitution, according to a news release from Patrick Harris, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Waits pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud on March 30. She is the eighth person sentenced in the scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides funding that is administered by the state DHS to serve meals to needy children.
As a DHS employee, Waits’ responsibilities included processing applications from people seeking to be feeding-site sponsors, determining their eligibility, and approving proposed feeding sites.
Harris said Waits received bribes from some sponsors, either directly or through payments to her husband, Anthony Waits. Anthony Waits recruited sponsors who then gave him a percentage of the money they received through the program.
Other defendants who have been sentenced in the case include Kattie Jordan, who was sentenced to five years and three months in prison; Reuben Nims, one year and nine months; Tonique Hatton, nine years; James Franklin, two years; Maria Nelson, two years and six months; Michael Lee, two years and six months; and Christopher Nichols, three years of probation.
Waymon Weeams, Dortha Harper, Francine Leon, Alexis Young and Erica Warren have all pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud USDA feeding programs and are awaiting sentencing. Jacqueline Mills and Anthony Waits were convicted in an April jury trial and are also awaiting sentencing.
The investigation is continuing.