A Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia has been indicted on charges of fraud, embezzlement, and theft for allegedly stealing government funds from a school nutrition program in 2012.
Shaun Brown, 58, denied any wrongdoing during her first appearance in a Norfolk courtroom last week and said after the hearing that she intends to fight the charges.
Prosecutors said Brown fraudulently obtained $803,000 of government funds through her nonprofit organization, which participated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The organization worked with the USDA Summer Food Service Program to provide meals to low-income children on school breaks.
Brown allegedly got the money by filing fraudulent reimbursement claims with the Virginia Department of Health.
Prosecutors said Brown and other staff members of her nonprofit told employees to skew data, such as the number of meals provided to low-income children, so the nonprofit could cash in on the extra reimbursements from the government, the Washington Post reported.
Brown chalked off the “irregularities” in the data to problems with the program.
“I want the irregularities corrected,” she said. “I want to see the program improve.”
Brown and her mother, Jenever, who co-founded the nonprofit, filed a $10 million lawsuit against the USDA, the Virginia Department of Health, and others this month for allegedly discriminating against African-Americans, delaying payments, and falsifying reimbursements and claims.
Brown ran against Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-VA) for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in 2016, but she lost to Taylor by 23 points.
Brown announced in July that she intends to launch another congressional bid for that seat in 2018.