Ex-congressional candidate Brown gets 3 years in prison for defrauding federal food program for the poor

Shaun Brown (Courtesy of Shaun Brown for Congress)
Shaun Brown (Courtesy of Shaun Brown for Congress)

A former congressional candidate for Virginia’s 2nd District defrauded a federal food service program that feeds low-income children.

Shaun Brown, 60, of Hampton, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison and one year of home detention for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and causing false records, wire fraud, and theft of government funds.

“Brown lied about feeding needy children in our community in hopes of making a financial gain for herself,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We will continue to thoroughly investigate those who lie and steal from taxpayers and the federal government. I want to thank our trial team and investigative partners for their incredible work on this important case.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Brown defrauded the USDA’s summer food service program aimed at feeding low income children.

Federal prosecutors said Brown and her mother ran a non-profit company, JOBS Community Development Corporation, which served as a sponsor for the SFSP.

Over the course of the 2012 Summer, Brown inflated the number of meals JOBS purportedly served to low-income children and submitted fraudulent claims for reimbursement based on the inflated numbers.

Prosecutors said Brown also orchestrated a massive scheme to falsify hundreds of documents to support her fraudulently inflated meal count numbers and ordered excessive amounts of food and milk products which she was well aware would never be used to feed needy children. At her direction, Brown’s employees disposed of this food and milk, purchased with federal funds, in large mounds behind buildings in Newport News, as well as a pig farm in Southern Virginia. As a result of her fraudulent actions, the USDA paid JOBS over $800,000 in federal funds.

Brown ran as the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016.  She attempted to run again as an independent candidate in the 2018 election, but was removed from the ballot because of other fraudulent actions by Brown and others, federal prosecutors said.

She was indicted on fraud charges in connection with the food service program in December 2017.

The 2nd district includes Accomack and Northampton counties, portions of York County, and the cities of Virginia Beach and Williamsburg and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Hampton.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.